On April 23, 2020, the Father Tracy Advocacy Center released the following Joint Statement and video along with the Ibero-American Action League and La Cumbre:
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Joint Statement from the Ibero-American Action League,
La Cumbre and the Father Laurence Tracey Advocacy Center
On Behalf of the Latino Community:
In writing this letter, we must invoke the name of one fearless advocate, Father Laurence Tracy, who fought for disparities around bilingual education for decades and is a founding member of RCSD’s Bilingual Council.
We, the Latino Community, are fed up with the efforts to underfund and the lack of political will to support multilingual services in the Rochester City School District.
We are done being overlooked. The latest iteration of the budget is the breaking point. We will be unapologetic about this issue. This is the Latino Community speaking, not one organization, entity or individual. This is a collective message, brought forth to the public from the grassroots.
In 2008, University of Rochester Warner School study report highlighted the disparities in bilingual education. Twelve years later we still face many of the same disparities with not enough advancement around critical issues. The community has sent many letters and requests, often without the progress we need in response. One such letter was submitted on February 13, 2018 from the Latino Education Task Force with critical recommendations to move this community forward. Here are our demands:
The May 7th, 2020 Budget vote is upon us. The budget proposes the addition of 15 staff to the central office, while in the same breath at a time like this, proposing the elimination of the Executive Director of Multilingual Education and eliminating 32 social workers across the district. When looking at a 6-year aggregate from 2016, 62% of Spanish Language ELL students dropped out of school with zero students going on to receive their GED. Having a director level position to support the needs of our population is essential and is a small ask in the sea of challenges our education system is facing.
There are now close to 80,000 Latino’s in Monroe County, with 61% concentrated in the City of Rochester. Since 2017, we have seen exponential growth, with over 8,000 new arrivals from Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria. We have approximately 3,500 ELL students in the district. The proposed cuts are cruel and set this population back decades. Now is not the time to strip progress.
This has a “here we go again” feeling to it: as the budget; superintendent challenges; and language access disparities are all rearing their ugly heads during the COVID pandemic. We MUST stand up to fight against this. In this spirit, we have joined the Rochester Community Coalition to Save Our Schools (ROC-SOS).
This community has endured great challenge and deserves better. Let us not use these times to target an already marginalized population, many of whom are striving to advance in an already difficult environment.
We will not be silent.
The Latino Community
Julio Saenz, M.S.
Chief Communications & Development Officer
(585)-256-8900 ext 631