By the age of 11, I knew how to set up the electricity for my house, enroll my siblings in school and lie to keep my undocumented family safe. Unfortunately, this is also the reality for so many of our students due to the power structures in this country disenfranchising our immigrant families.
I remember one particular day … It was a warm and humid Thursday morning in Venice, FL. My sister was sick and as the oldest sibling, once again I needed to interpret for my mom so that she could talk to our doctor. We got in the car to drive to the Blue Point Clinic a few miles down the road. We walked in and the waiting room was filled with people. The nurse with the blue scrubs gave us a clipboard stacked with forms. “Fill them out!” she said. We were scared. Since we were undocumented, we knew we’d have to leave the social security section blank. I returned the forms and the nurse yelled, “What do you mean you don’t have a social security number? Are you illegal?” She just outed us in front of a room full of strangers.
I looked at my mom and she was lost for words. She didn’t understand, but she knew something was not right. I was livid. I needed to translate this and my sister needed medical care. My mom, who in Argentina was a civically active teacher and spoke up every time she saw an injustice, lost her voice. But I found mine. At that moment, I chose to stand up for my family. I told the nurse we wanted to see her manager and that she was welcome to call the health department too. That afternoon the doctor treated my sister, and didn’t have a problem with immigration.
I found my voice and through that, I found my power.
At Rocketship Public Schools, a key organizing principle we lean on is “Power is taken, not given.” We harness power within our families because we see them: we see their power, their resiliency and desire to give their children access to better opportunities regardless of the ZIP code they live in. So we collectively advocate to change our entrenched systems of inequity.
For our families, the heart of our work is advocating for continuous, K-12 access to quality schools. External impact work is increasingly urgent, as our students and families suffer COVID-related trauma, are faced with racial violence, and so much more.
At Rocketship, we unleash parent power to transform schools, communities, and entire cities. Through their tireless efforts, our parent leaders are making the vision of unleashed potential a reality.
Our parent leaders are:
- Joining the Citizenship Coalition in San Jose, California to advocate for our immigrant families and access to pre-K education for all.
- Joining the West Contra Costa Coalition to increase voter participation in the East Bay Area.
- Organizing with multiple schools in Nashville, Tennessee to ensure our families have access to a quality fifth grade education.
- Growing our family engagement community workgroup in Washington, D.C. to share best practices to better serve our families.
- Launching a coalition of Texas leaders and parents to come together to transform education in Fort Worth.
Together, we are unleashing the voice and power of our parents.