Open Letter: Why did you Vote Yes on AB 1505?

Note: AB 1505 gives local school districts sole authority to approve new charter schools and to consider how new schools would impact the district’s budget in the approval process.

Dear Assemblymember Robert Rivas,

My name is Rosalinda, and I am a mother to a 10-year-old beautiful girl with Down Syndrome who attends a charter school in Morgan Hill, CA. I would like to express to you how your vote would affect my daughter’s education and in life after.

Although we live a five-minute walk from our neighborhood school, which is known to be the top elementary school in our area, I selected a charter public school over a traditional public school for several reasons. In the charter public school, my daughter has the opportunity to be with her typical peers 90% of the time verses 10% in a traditional public school. She is able to have lunch and recess with her typical peers, where at a traditional public school she was not going to have that opportunity. Being at the charter public school she has been able to attend and participate in field trips while at a traditional public school, children with Down Syndrome are not offered to go on field trips.  

My daughter is popular at her charter school with the students, faculty and parents. At a traditional public school, she wouldn’t be known because children with disabilities are isolated in one classroom with the same peers and teacher(s) for several years and because Special Day Classes (SDC) are not exposed to the rest of the school and events. My daughter has had a different teacher every year, which is a great opportunity for her to learn how diverse the world is — that our world is not of one kind, that it revolves around all sorts of personalities, structure, rules, and environment. I believe this has not just been a learning opportunity for her but also for her teachers and peers. We are a diverse community, right? My daughter has learned to know what is like to be part of a community being at the charter public school.

This year my daughter learned the meaning of being a Bucket Filler (showing kindness and appreciation of others goes a long way to making this world a happier place for everyone…) and the awesome part is that her peers accept see her. One peer writes, “Dear Nayeli thanks for being a great friend”… and what’s the most rewarding part is when my daughter comes home with so much excitement to show me she received a bucket filler from a peer. This could be no more than a wonderful feeling of happiness, joy, love, and gratitude that I made the right choice in placing her in a charter school. My daughter has been given the opportunity to perform on a school stage along her peers at school events. Can you imagine how wonderful this has impacted her as young learner? To believe and empower herself to grow and beside her peers, she is given the opportunity to be involved in enrichment programs in art, physical education, Spanish, and agriculture. This is a tremendous experience, which I believe will only enhance her as individual yet set her solid in the real world.

Being at the charter public school has given her first hand the respect of diversity as a whole child. Being in an inclusive educational model has given her exposure to real-life activities through project-oriented programs. Since she was given an opportunity to be in a typical classroom, this has been a community connection in which she is learning to understand her connection to the community and the responsibility of her peers and the same goes for her peers about individuals with disabilities. This has not just been a wonderful learning outcome for my daughter, but I also believe for her peers as well. My daughters and her peers are the future of tomorrow.   

At the charter public school, she is well known and valued as an individual because she is not isolated in one classroom with the same peers and teacher for several years. She is given the exposure of what the real world is. My goal as a mother is to instill a solid foundation for her and doesn’t it start at home than school. So why take away my right to school choice, where it gives me the opportunity to send my daughter to a charter public school? I am not different than any other parent in that I want what any parent wants for their children (typical or non- typical) — ready for the real world and giving them the foundation to strive.  The charter public school has given my daughter that opportunity to develop self-motivation, self-discipline, and be socially responsible by including her in a regular classroom and not isolating her. Because of these opportunities, this has assured me as a parent that my daughter will have the foundation to real –life after school. Not just being accepted at the charter public school yet given all these opportunities to participate.

So, why did you vote yes on AB 1505?

I hope you realize that your yes vote has not only let me down, your constituent, but you also have let down a little girl that depends on people like you to make the right decision on giving a child the right to an all inclusive education, future and foundation yet who deserves to be given equal opportunity!



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Rosalinda Lemus

Rosalinda Lemus

Rosalinda Lemus is a mother of two and a Special Ed teacher. Rosalinda is an advocate for special education and has worked in both traditional and charter schools.
Rosalinda Lemus

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