A New Reality Settles in for Teachers in Central Los Angeles
Yesterday, Bard MAT faculty and graduate students joined two different emergency meetings called by educators at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), our community partner where we mentor college-bound high school students. The teachers, students, and families that gathered are primarily first and second generation Central American immigrants, the refugee legacy of several brutal wars and the economic backbone of our city, with varying levels of documentation, deferred action childhood arrival statutes, and most concerning, citizenship designations that distinguish children from their mothers and fathers. These students who, prior to this week, bounced into after-school programming with typical teenage awkwardness and quotidian concerns, have been struck by debilitating anxieties, asking: “Is there anything we can do when they come for our parents? Will we be able to see relatives after the wall is built? Who should we call when we are threatened or beat up? Should we continue writing our application to college?”
It is difficult to convey, without understating the devastating impact of this election on real families in our neighborhoods, how remarkably equipped the progressive, Latino education community in LA is for this moment. At a time when surprise and shock define a post-election media narrative, our work with HOLA continues to show us how small educational communities, staffed by expert local educators, have been responding to subtler forms of xenophobia for decades. This is a defining moment for students across Los Angeles and our graduate students are humbled and fortunate to be learning from such brilliant and visionary educators.
Bard MAT is grappling with difficult questions in this evolving but urgent new context and we are considering how best to respond institutionally. In the meantime, our faculty and graduate students remain committed to defending the rights of every student to quality public schools, teachers who uphold their dignity, caring after-school communities, and equitable affordable college education.