CTA is collaborating with our counterpart in Mexico, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (the teachers union known as SNTE), to help migrant children and youth based at the California-Mexico border with educational and other needs.
The needs vary among several populations. One is children from deported families who arrive in Mexico (some 3,200 annually to Baja California alone, according to SNTE). They have lived in the United States most of their lives, are culturally American and only speak English. Mexican schools do not offer bilingual education, and these students are struggling.
Another population is the thousands of youth and children who have journeyed to the border and are living in shelters for multiple weeks while waiting for their U.S. asylum requests to be processed. Shane Parmely, a member of the San Diego Education Association who received a 2019 CTA Human Rights Award for her work with migrant families, says that besides lacking basic supplies, these children receive no educational services. Even book donations are not necessarily useful because of literacy challenges.
It’s the first time CTA and SNTE have joined forces. Possible solutions to be discussed include bilingual education teaching trainings on both sides of the border that complement SNTE’s partnerships with several California colleges and universities, as well as specially developed curriculum. It could also involve K-12 school teacher exchanges through a program coordinated by the California Department of Education.
CTA educators or retired educators might also be able to assist youth and children in shelters.
“These are our future students,” Parmely says. “Whether they’re granted asylum or not, they’ll be here a couple years. In the big picture, we can make little investments now that will alter the course of things in the future.”
CTA leadership is convening a group of chapters located at the border and will continue to meet with SNTE leaders. The alliance with SNTE advances CTA’s goal of advocating for social justice issues and ensuring quality education for all students. “My hope is to develop a model of action that underscores education as a universal right,” says CTA President Eric Heins.