School Board Speech September 13, 2017

Good evening President Rothman, Vice President Perlman, School Board Members Guzman, Koniger-Macklin, Wong, and Superintendent Martinez, Cabinet members, APT and CSEA brothers and sisters, and community members. I am deeply saddened for our country by the actions of President Trump last week with the revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which protects from deportation approximately 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children—200,000 of whom are here in California. Of that 200,000, we know of many who are our Pomona children.

President Eric Heins of the California Teachers Association said it best on the morning the decision was announced, “Today’s calculated action by President Donald Trump and his administration threatens the futures of nearly a million young Dreamers and places them at risk of deportation from the only country most of them have ever truly known as home. This is an outrageous breach of faith and a broken promise to these young people who applied for DACA protection and who have met the education and/or military service requirements. It threatens to break up families, ruin lives, and is a betrayal not only to the affected young people and their loved ones, but to the very core values we share as a nation.

California educators understand from first-hand experience what DACA has meant for the security and well-being of thousands of our students. DACA participants have graduated with distinction from our schools and many are in our classrooms today, having only recently begun the new school year with at least a glimmer of hope that their education and their dreams would not be shattered by a callous act such as the one taken this morning.”

I ran into a former student from the very first class I taught, here in Pomona, over 17 years ago. She is a DACA student and was at the press conference this past Wednesday supporting the program. She was new to the country when she came to my class and did not know one word of English and her mom didn’t know any English either. I recognized them both immediately and gave them hugs and her mom thanked me for supporting her daughter and other DACA students. We cried and hugged some more and my student told me the story about learning her first word in kindergarten with me. She said the first word she remembers learning in my class was “hug” and that I was teaching students what “XOXO” meant. She said she went home that day and said to her mom, “Dame un hug” and her mom asked her what that meant. She taught her mom by hugging her and my student said she would never forget that. This student has lived in Pomona for 17 years, she is a graduate of Pomona High School, and serves as a Spanish interpreter for the county. She is a productive member of our community.

This anecdote is of a specific student, but her story is representative of so many DACA students. DACA is not unconstitutional and we, as educators should continue to advocate for our Dreamers.

I am very proud to say that Superintendent Martinez, School Board Member Guzman, Fernando Meza, APT Executive Board Member Mona Valenzuela, Teachers Maria Bell, Jim Mulligan, Ion Puschilla, Pomona Parent and Advocate Claudia Bedolla, and many other leaders in our community rallied at a press conference for our DACA students hosted by the Latina/Latino Roundtable. We heard poems and poetry slam from former PUSD students and students currently in the DACA program. The Pomona School Board already passed a resolution for Safe Schools, but this isn’t enough. We need everyone’s help so please call Congress, tonight, tomorrow, every day until they pass the bipartisan Dream ACT of 2017.

Call 855-764-1010, this number will direct you to your own Representative.

We do not need to stop at calling our own Congresswomen; we need to call as many as we can. Simply state your first and last name. If you are calling your own Representative, state that you are a constituent, that you support the Dream Act of 2017 and that you hope that they do too. If you are calling a Representative who is not your own, state your first and last name and that you support the Dream Act of 2017. You can choose to state more, but you don’t have to. It’s quick and easy, and it will take less than 2 minutes to make a difference.

We are Stronger Together.

Thank you.