MPU VOICES: Kim Rivera on the next DESE Commissioner

TO THE MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF EDUCATION:

My name is Kim Rivera and I am a single Latina mother.  I’m proud to say I have three graduates from the Springfield Public Schools. If you are familiar with the challenges in Springfield, you know that there are many underperforming schools and too many of our children are not getting the education they deserve. What makes matters worse is we know that the achievement gap between our students of color and those who live in poverty in comparison to their student peers in affluent districts is as pervasive as it has ever been. This breaks my heart when I think of all the students who are not prepared for college and cannot compete for the jobs and opportunities that are out there.

My story is similar to many other parents. Though all three of my children graduated, it didn’t come without a lot of controversy. There was peer and teacher bullying, there was a lack of parent support and we waited far too long for an IEP. I know that schools can do better and I hope the new commissioner will listen to parents who have stories like mine.

I feel very fortunate to have had my children graduate.  Especially because we came from foster homes, shelters and had to overcome bouts of domestic violence.  Education became the way out for a better life for my children. I became involved on the PTO, booster clubs and volunteered all I could. It became a team effort.  I believe because we all worked together- the teachers, the kids and myself. They are successful now.  My oldest son works for a United States Senator, my other son works as a supervisor of a trucking company and my daughter graduates in April with her Masters! This wouldn’t have been possible unless we worked together, we fought for what we deserved, and we never gave up. My voice was heard by their teachers and I will continue to use my voice for other families who care about education.

I hope that our new Education Commissioner makes parent voices a priority and reaches out to schools for a report card on their parent partnerships. The commissioner should also create an opportunity for parents and students to do the same.  Everyone should be held accountable- perhaps by creating a statewide group of parents, teachers, administrators, students and even alumni to oversee the progress of public education and help our most valuable resource- our kids.

Thank you for your time

Kim Rivera
Springfield, MA

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