By Rodolfo Aguilar, MPU Parent Leader
When we talk about public education in Massachusetts, Governor Baker is proud that we are rank among the top states with improved scores in math, science and language, the statement is true but falls short in describing that there are two types of public education, the suburban public education where schools are better equipped and students are getting quality education.
On the other hand, we have public urban education where our kids attend. The schools where our kids attend are struggling, for the most part are level three schools, a high percentage of Latino and African American students end up dropping out of school by the time they reach 9th or 10th grade.
We are also finding that schools are not challenging our kids academically and the STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has been taking out of the curriculum, for the most part Boston Public Schools are consider vocational schools and STEM program is not included limiting kids attending these schools to learn and explore to the their fullest potential.
There is also the concern that schools are not safe, violence and gang activity within the school are also a great concern for the safety of our kids.
When MPU started nearly two years ago, a very small group of parents decided to take action, frustrated and tire because their voices not heard, some felt helpless at the time because time after and did not know where to turn.
Many of us have acted alone advocating for the academic needs of our kids, many conversations have existed with legislators, politicians and educators but no satisfactory action has been taken, education in the classroom has not improve and the high school dropout rate remains high. When we first met as parents to discuss how to improve our communities, education was at the top of the list but it was not the only concern parents have, they also feel schools and the streets in our neighborhoods are not safe places.
Parent participation is the heart and soul of organization and a key factor for our existence. Visiting different neighborhoods in the urban areas where there are a high percentage of Latinos, Asian and African American families, MPU has been able to identify for the most part these ethnic groups tend to live in the same or close by neighborhoods, as a result kids go to the same schools.
At the beginning we started meeting in East Boston and Lawrence, in the meeting we saw the need not only to start the conversations among ourselves as families but to take action and reached out to the people in public office like the Governor, the Mayor, City Council, the Police Department and express to them our concerns.
Today, after attending several planning meetings, I am proud of the work MPU parents are doing and the things they have accomplished working together as one in our communities. We have opened chapters in the following cities: Springfield, East Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, Lynn, Salem and hopefully we will open one in the city of Chelsea soon.
MPU parents have engaged in advocating for better curriculum and safer schools by attending and giving statements to the senators and legislators at the State House, MPU parents have also advocated for Breakfast After the Bell. We have engaged in an effort to make our schools and neighborhoods safer.
This past month of April, the parents in the East Boston, Salem and Lynn chapters have drafted a letter addressing some of the concerns they have, parents want the streets in their neighborhoods safer. We have met with community liaisons, police lieutenants, community activists, city councils and have brought our concerns to the table.
In East Boston we have joined forces with a local group who started peace walks against crime in the streets in the city of East Boston, the 3rd Tuesday of every month, we will be joining forces and will meet at 69 Paris Street, at the Police Station.
We are making progress but the work plan has just began, this past Monday April 30, 2018 MPU met for the first time at the Chelsea Library on Broadway street for the first time, about 10 members in the community attended including a middle school and high school teachers.
In the months to come, MPU is looking forward in engaging forces with the parents in the city of Chelsea.