A Letter to Commissioner Riley: Not a Number

Dear Commissioner Riley,

My name is Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo and I am a survivor of the Somerville Public Schools. My experience there left me feeling hopeless and abandoned. I received my GED from the Boston Public Schools in 1996.

I am now the mother of three little boys, Matthew, Miles and David.

I know you have been traveling around the Commonwealth talking about the “State of Latino education” so I wanted to reach out.

Commissioner Riley, I am worried. Very worried.

You see, I’ve been attending a lot of meetings with the leaders of our education system and I am worried that my children are not going to be able to access the high-quality education that I have promised them—that WE have promised them—because of the structural inequities that persist within our system that have gone unaddressed for generations. Are my children and so many others going to be left behind?

This week I received the MCAS numbers from the community I grew up in and the numbers are staggering. 42% of the children attending the Somerville Public Schools are Latino, just like mine. According to the 2018 data released late last month,78% of Hispanic children in Somerville are not proficient on the 3rd-grade MCAS.

Commissioner Riley, we know what that means.

We know that those children are now prime candidates for the school-to-prison pipeline.

Yet, I listened to elected officials, school leaders, and others talk about how well they are doing in Somerville, that everything is great and how inclusive they are. There’s no problem. Why don’t they understand how bad this is? Why aren’t they upset?

We can talk about numbers. And there are so many numbers.

But David is not a number.

And if we don’t address the crisis in Latino education in Massachusetts soon, he could be assigned a number by the Department of Corrections.

David has to be reading at grade level by the third grade to avoid becoming a prime candidate for the school-to-prison pipeline.

David is my baby, Commissioner Riley. The apple of my eye. Please help me.

There are thousands of mothers just like me asking for your leadership so that we can start addressing the crisis we face in educating Latino students in Massachusetts.

Can we talk?

I want to help.

Best,

Keri

 

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