As a child, I sat by my father's knee, as the stories of workers' struggles for workplace fairness and civil rights marches washed over me. It is so important for our young people to understand their rights and fight for justice, and so it was with great pride (and a little matronly concern) that I watched the news about the recent marches and walkouts in the aftermath of the passage of Arizona's SB 1070.
One reason I ran for the Denver Board of Education was to ensure that our Latino youth can not only recite the U.S. Constitution, but also understand it on a deep, intrinsic level. I want for them to embrace it as I do, to wield it as the sword of justice to defend the rights of all, not just Latinos.
Our responsibility as adults, therefore, is to ensure that our youth are armed with truth. So it was with great dismay that I read in last week's issue that, “Youth called out legislators who have worked to enact laws...which are discriminatory by nature, including Andrew Romanoff who had voted against in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.”
This statement, my people, is simply not true, and I am concerned that adults are feeding misinformation to our youth.
I have heard this too, and still being the good, former DPS student that I am, I decided to research this statement. In a recent email conversation I had with Thornton City Councilman (and former state legislator) Val Vigil, he stated to me,
"I sponsored the in-state tuition bill four times...Of the four times the bill made it to the floor once and we took two different recorded votes on the bill, Andrew Romanoff voted for it both times.”
I endorsed Andrew Romanoff partly because of his consistent call for federal comprehensive immigration reform. According to the Rocky Mountain News in August 2006, Mr. Romanoff said, “(he) stressed that the federal government must act to create 'genuine long-term solutions.'” Later, in January 2007, he told the Rocky again, “He suggested that lawmakers make sure that the laws they passed are working and keep pressure on Congress for national immigration reform."I think our system is broken," Romanoff told the group.
Right after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's signed SB 1070 into law, Andrew Romanoff issued a powerful statement of condemnation. He stated, “The haphazard enforcement of our immigration laws -- and Washington's failure to reform them -- have split families, sown fear and confusion, and undermined respect for the rule of law itself. While Congress dodges the debate over immigration reform, states are expected to pay for mandates they cannot afford and to address a problem they cannot solve.” To date, no other Colorado public person has issued any formal statement of condemnation of Arizona's laws, aside from Congressman Jared Polis.
Those that work with our youth, whether teachers, organizers, or parents, should set an example of integrity, even with those with whom we do not agree. To be Latino is to engage in deep discussions of current events, to show interest and knowledge of complex issues and to opine. It's little wonder that our Spanish-language news reports have so much more depth of coverage than do English-language news. We like to know the facts.
Adults, let's endeavor to arm our youth with the facts, especially when inspiring them to stand for justice.
Board Member, Denver Public Schools Board of Education
Director District 2, Southwest Denver