I immigrated to the United States at the age of six and entered the first grade at a local elementary school that was fortunate to have the resources needed to help a young, recent immigrant, English Learner succeed. Fast forward 17 years, and I now stand in front of students every single day and do my best to teach them with the same patience, love, and support that my teachers did for me. Education reform has touched my life in many ways, it has inspired my career and has given me the drive to fight every single day so that all students receive the excellent education they deserve. It’s possible, it’s attainable, but only by having all stakeholders on the same, “kids first” priorities.
Although I was young when I immigrated, I remember very clearly hearing conversations between my parents about the reasons we were crossing the border into the United States, all of them centered around a better future for our family. I had the opportunity to come to the U.S. and realize my dream of graduating from college, a dream that many students in Mexico also hope to make a reality. Unfortunately, many students continue to face weak academic programs and under resourced schools. Students are not set up for success and that can change with the upcoming election.
As discussed in a recent article by the Washington Post, Mexico’s lead presidential candidate has stated his desire to “scrap” education reform and “start over.” Mexico’s students continue to score below average in reading, math and science. Mexico’s students and young people need an education system that works for every single one of them, not just those who can afford to attend private schools. Education reform, when done correctly, can look at the current state and use data driven goals to set a path for where the country wants its education system to be. Politicians need to get away from making education reform a political statement filled with false promises to gather votes, and instead make it a long term, strategic plan that benefits students’ academics. Mexico’s education system is not picture perfect, and there remains a lot of work to be done. I would hope that Lopez Obrador, should he win the election as he’s favored to do over the weekend, looks for elements of the reform that were working and for those that were not working and make decisions that focus on improving student success, while giving the teachers the tools that they need to help their students. For the sake of the students, education needs to remain at the forefront of public agendas until a system is designed and implemented that benefits all its students.
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