Evelyn Macias is the mother of a California public school student who is suing the state for systemically placing the least effective teachers in classrooms with students who are the most challenged. The case is so famous that it has it’s own hashtag, #Vergara.

The video below shows Macias attempting to speak at a California assembly “informal hearing” on teacher job-protections. I say “attempting” because Dan Walters, a veteran teacher who was elected from Long Beach to the Assembly set a one minute time limit for testimony. When Macias went over her minute she was curtly told to summarize, then her microphone went dead.

 Macias is a Latino mother with deep concerns about education for her student. She has joined a group of parents, and civil rights groups, to fight at the highest level to stop low-income classrooms from being a purgatory for teachers who won’t teach.

Walters is a white teacher unionist and an elected member of the highest legislative body. He proudly proclaims himself a member of the California Teachers Association who uses his power in office to do their bidding.

He says “we must not be districted by the fact that many in society expect teachers solve every social problem out state faces.”

Apparently the idea that teachers in low-income communities actually teach is too much.

Can you see how the color of power works?

During her short testimony Macias says she tried to sign up to give testimony previously, but was denied. She also expresses disappointment that no students or parents were in the line up to speak.

That raises doubts about the marketing of teachers and their unions that says they’re all about parents and communities. It might be more accurate for them to say they’re all about parents and students who speak from the union script, but not those who raise serious issues about teaching itself.

The common story we’re told is that parents need to be way more involved in the lives of their children. Nowhere is that advice more abundant than when it comes to education. When we talk about the ubiquitous gaps between white children with employed, college educated, middle class parents, and poor children of color, we’re told the the difference happens because nonwhite students lack vocabulary, preschool preparation, and good parents.

That narrative is so strong, and middle-class people believe it so thoroughly, that it shields the ears of privilege from hearing any alternative explanation for racial gaps in education. People discount the body of research that details the many ways educational systems re-privilege the children of power parents, those most likely to support Walters, and marginalizes the voices of the underclass who are lucky to get one minute to speak before being cut off.

So, it’s almost a scandal when a parent like Macias shows up only to be discounted by the process and power of those who say women like her do too little for the success of their children.

If we really believe black and brown parents are key to improving education, we must check white power and the system of government that allows it to cut mothers short when we come to tell the real story.


h/t to SFER California for posting this video.

Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Post, a media project of the Results in Education Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.


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