Saturday, September 5, 2015

Everyday Advocates - Jorge Fernandez

Why is public education advocacy important to you?
Public education advocacy is important to me because of what Glenda Ritz described and I wholeheartedly feel the same way: “I have never been able to meet the needs of children in my classroom from within the school walls...I have always had children who were in need of food, clothing, adult and community support.” By my experiences teaching in an inner-city public school and my conversations with other teachers, parents, and students, I have learned of the disconnect between what legislators say and the reality on the ground. There are many people I have spoken to that think that trying to create systematic change is a waste of time: that if I don’t like things that are occurring in my workplace that I should just move on. Every day though I become more and more steadfast in my belief that I cannot turn my back on the students in my school… and I can’t stay silent and do nothing while the students suffer. If I don’t speak up for these students, then who will?”

What has been your experience in dealing with legislators? Has it been good or bad? Has it helped?
Legislators are marginally responsive to concerns and are calculating about doing just enough to get reelected. I have responded to surveys and since the last election left significant comments in addition to emails on the topics being addressed, especially education. It is hard to tell what my role has been, because my communication has been in tandem with Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education communication. For example, in the battle against SB 1 and HB 1486, there were many concessions made, but ultimately SB 1 still passed with parts from HB 1486 attached to it (after being voted down) and my representative never showed any resistance to the party line.

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