Education is very controversial in the sense that it doesn’t just deal with students, but also how the community responds to change. Historically, change in our communities hasn’t been fair and it hasn’t been adequate, so education is often seen as something that a person could get involved in or engaged in for the wrong reasons. There’s this sort of fear among people who care about this issue. They think that there’s some hidden agenda that might take away the sovereignty – whether socially or economically – of an area in need. If you get involved in education advocacy, the community might look at you and ask: “Are you sure you’re fighting for the right cause?”
As students we have a say – a voice that gives us the ability to get involved in issues like education, and it helps to find an organization that helps us achieve this. I joined Students For Education Reform (SFER) Action Network Los Angeles because it is a non-profit organization that gives students the necessary tools to help them pursue careers and professions in issues that are of interest to them.
This effort helps me advocate on behalf of my community for long-term changes in education that are meaningful and impactful. I am invested in this movement because I have brothers who are in public schools and I see how they struggle in the system. I feel that I can’t just be in an environment where I am benefiting and have advantages, and not do anything to help them.
Many college students my age are involved in politics, but not in education because they think that it is only for those going into teaching. However, being involved in education is not necessarily about being a teacher, it’s about digging deep into the education movement and looking at what sort of issues are being discussed – whether these relate to teachers, students, or parents. College students need to be invested in this effort because many of them may have recently come out of the traditional public school system or pubic charter schools in underprivileged communities. This effort is relevant to them and they can help improve the system if they stay involved. We are making inroads in our communities and we can do more, but we need to stay active in the education reform movement.
When I canvass communities to create awareness about education issues, I find that most voters want to see sudden change, but in reality, that’s not what happens. Change takes time and in the education system, it takes time to see the benefits. Doing this work makes it possible for residents to see commitment – I have a relationship with the community not just as a canvasser, but also as a student. They see that we’re still here, giving back, and encouraging them to stay involved.
Hugo Garrido-Ruiz is a junior at the University of California, Riverside, working toward a BS in Political Science, Law and Society with a Minor in Education. He is a member of Students For Education Reform (SFER) Action Network Los Angeles, a non-profit organization led by college students working to make a difference in the K-12 education system for their communities.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.