(I swear this is not the Drudge Report, but I really need your attention. Kids need our help.)
The city of Holyoke, Massachusetts is in the midst of a decades-long education crisis. After years of negligence and neglect on the part of local officials, the situation has gotten so bad the the entire system in now under state receivership.
This beautiful, vibrant and inspiring community — is 48.8% Puerto Rican. 80 percent of the children in the district school system are Puerto Rican. And the community has been letting kids fall through the cracks for generations — now to the point where they could be on the brink of a public education crisis without immediate intervention and support.
How bad is it? What does receivership mean? Chronically underperforming schools with no relief or end in sight. And frankly, the situation in Holyoke has gotten so bad that the state has had to come in and take over because they are violating the constitutional right of the children in Holyoke to a high quality education.
Even under receivership things are bad. Just three weeks ago, a group of Latino parents, Padres Latinos de las Escuelas de Springfield y Holyoke, (with the full support and solidarity from members of Massachusetts Parents United) sued the Holyoke Public Schools, the Massachusetts Department of Education and others for violating the civil rights of students and families — as well as filing a formal civil right complaint with the federal Department of Justice.
The suit alleges the district fails to provide parents who speak limited English adequate translation services, including for educational documents regarding the children in their families.
"For at least two decades, HPS has routinely and repeatedly failed to translate important educational documents and communications to LEP Parents," the lawsuit reads. "This includes notices of meetings, evaluations, proposed individual education plans (‘IEPs’), final IEPs, disciplinary notices, student and parent handbooks, anti-bullying information, notices of events,authorizations for release of information, health plans, nursing materials, documents related to extracurricular activities, progress reports, special education documents, and other routine communications. HPS also failed to provide trained interpreters for meetings between Parents and school officials, including critical meetings to discuss and formulate IEPs."
The bottom line: The Holyoke Public Schools are a disaster. Especially for Latino kids.
As I mentioned before — Puerto Ricans are the backbone of this community. And according to the numbers, Holyoke, Massachusetts is home to the most densely populated Puerto Rican community in America.
As I wrote earlier this week, the island of Puerto Rico is crying out for help. And Puerto Rican communities across the nation — as well as the larger Latino community are hearing their cries and taking action. Over the past week I have spoken to families across the Commonwealth who are taking immediate steps to make arrangements to bring their family to Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn and Boston.
You didn’t really think we would leave our family members to starve to death or die of disease, did you?
So make no mistake, we are bringing them here. Many of these children may come alone to live with tias, abuelas, or other family members. And all should be welcomed with open arms. They are American citizens and need no other authorization or approval other than a plane ticket.
Yet we still have little to no leadership in our cities, the state house or the Governor’s office. Instead we have tweets, selfies and sad face emojis with “thoughts and prayers.”
We don’t need “thoughts and prayers.” We need plans, money and action.
We can’t trust many in Holyoke leadership to do what it takes to educate and protect the Latino children in the city right now. How can we trust them to care for these babies who have just lost everything and endured the most painful and traumatic experience of their lives without providing them with additional support, resources and assistance?
Leaders in Holyoke, the Western Massachusetts delegation, state house leadership and Charlie Baker need to convene a real conversation
So much has been put into “rapid response” in our “sanctuary cities.” It’s time to start rapidly responding and step up to the plate to provide real sanctuary to our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico who need our best work. Today.
What do you think?