The San Rafael City Schools community received another incident of intolerance, at a local level this time. On an early morning in December, staff arrived at San Pedro Elementary School to see a sign posted over the school’s marquee. Written on the paper was, “Got English?”
These two words refer to our high population of English-learners, which is approximately 85% of the total student population as defined by San Rafael City Schools. “In truth, San Pedro does have a very high number of Latino students as well as English Learners, but not all of the students are in that category. The sign was hurtful to students, parents, and staff because it lumped all students together as not knowing English,” commented SRCS Superintendent Jim Hogeboom.
A root reason for this problem could be that the San Pedro Elementary is located in an area that is completely opposite to what the school reflects itself. Freshman Evelin Rodriguez, an English-learner, commented, “On the first day of Kindergarten, I couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying at all.” As said above, 85% of students enrolled at San Pedro are English-learners, they seek an opportunity for education here in San Rafael. Wars and political conflict are popular push factors that force people out of their home country to find someplace safer, in terms of the 85%, they typically come from areas in the Americas, in search of better opportunities and overall peaceful lives.
Together 2023, a task force established by Superintendent Hogeboom was implemented to set the district on a straight path toward success and its outcome was to collaborate together to craft a common vision. “Together 2023 is our plan to bring together our parents, staff, students, administrators, and community members to put together a three-year plan to identify our core values, the skills we want our students to have upon graduation, district goals, and district action plans.” Superintendent Hogeboom also added that the people supporting this were a big help, with their engagement and participation through every step of the process. For now, Together 2023 has identified their values and what they want to accomplish in the future to mitigate incidents like these. They are also trying to identify actions that will lead to improving the existing student success that is found in all of their schools. In the communication released by SRCS, they also hope to include surrounding community members as well as the parents, students, and staff in the process.
Including community members to these events will hope to create a unified community of all of us. Evelin also added, “I think that people don’t treat us as equals because we don’t speak the same language.” A generation of intolerance is being created and that’s exactly what we need to avoid, we won’t see change from this if we don’t begin to start mitigating these issues head on.