In this special installment of the Equity Advocate, we’ll be featuring some of our long-time partners to celebrate our 5-year anniversary, reflect on the past, and uncover what the future holds for the fight for educational equity in New York.
“Families don’t just stop. They are fluid in their changing needs and navigation of care and education for their developing children,” said Danielle Demeuse, Director of Policy at the Committee for Hispanic Families & Children (CHCF).
As a long-time partner of Ed Trust–NY and member of The New York Equity Coalition and Raising NY Coalition, CHCF breaks down silos between sectors such as early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary, and uplifts the voices of the Latino community of New York City to ensure they are not left out of the conversation when it comes to education equity.
“That’s because the Latino community is forgotten in many ways,” said Executive Director Ramon Peguero, Esq. One avenue to elevate the community’s experiences and needs statewide is through advocacy and research from The New York Equity Coalition.
“There is every facet of student and family experience you can think of [in The New York Equity Coalition], which can add a lens of what people experience. It comes down to a patchwork, where there might be holes of what we’re looking to fill since we [all] truly know the communities we serve,” Danielle elaborated, as she reflected on the future of the coalition’s work.
For CHCF, that means holding schools accountable when it comes to equitably serving students from low-income communities, students experiencing homelessness, immigrant students, multilingual students, and parents with limited English proficiency, as well as elevating parent and student voices to ensure there is not a gap between what Latino families in New York City are experiencing and what is being advocated for statewide.
During the pandemic, this work was vital to push to get resources to reach those in need, considering there were so many ‘have nots’ and inequities impacting Latino families, according to Ramon. For example, many families did not know their children were eligible for laptops during remote learning because there wasn’t always an immediate and direct translation of announcements for families, among many challenges.
“Our community is [often] the last to know about resources and changes to the system. Just think about how documents are translated from English to Spanish through Google Translate…” Ramon said. “They were just brushed over.”
Continual gaps in responsive supports resulted in ongoing language barriers for families during the pandemic, students with special learning needs not receiving the appropriate resources or funding; and mixed-status immigrant families feeling apprehensive of utilizing city or government resources because of their immigration status.
“We’ve made sure that communications [about resources during the pandemic] were going out in an equitable manner,” said Danielle. “We were brought in as a community partner to many districts to make sure resources were truly accessible and families were fully supported.”
Yet regardless of the time period or task at hand, uplifting a person’s lived experience is essential for statewide advocacy efforts. “No one can tell your story like you tell your story,” said Ramon. “It’s hard to dismiss the impact of whatever the issue is on the person who has been affected, whether that be lack of funding, translations services, etc.”
Data and research from Ed Trust–NY, the New York Equity Coalition, and Raising NY has further helped CHCF bring a voice to the table of those they represent on equity issues such as course access, school funding, school suspensions, and improving teacher diversity in New York.
“It all comes down to demonstrated proof — and data isn’t the ‘end all’ — it adds onto the anecdotal experience of how that really translates to a person’s lived experience,” said Ramon. “You can’t deny that when you sit down in front of policymakers.”
Thank you, Danielle, Ramon, and CHCF, for being an incredible partner of Ed Trust–NY, as well as ensuring the members of Latino community are represented in the fight for educational equity!