Recently, CVNM Education Fund’s program Juntos: Our Air, Our Water joined Global 505 for a press conference to call on the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) to hold true to their policy passed by the APS School Board unanimously in 2012 of supporting equitable and effective systems and utilizing the histories and cultures of our families as a foundation for education, safe and welcoming environments, expanded communication between schools and families, and building relationships and capacity. Read the full press release from Global 505 below.

Global 505 is a coalition of organizations serving Albuquerque’s immigrant and refugee communities.

Juntos Program Coordinator, Estefany González, explained why she and Juntos organizers and volunteers are participating in this event:

Juntos is a program that focuses on organizing, mobilizing, and serving Latino communities of color in the South Valley, Westgate and International District. Many of the community members we work with and have become Juntos promotores are immigrants and refugees who are working to improve their community and their environment. Juntos is a program that knows about the intersectional and complex identities of the community we work with, which is why it is imperative for us to be a program that focuses on exactly that.

We know that our communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues, but also by other social injustices. Being part of the Global 505 coalition has allowed us to connect our community members to other organizations and issues and at the same time we have been able to reach a wider audience and inform them about environmental justice.

Through Global 505, Juntos has been a part of conducting a Health Impact Assessment that focuses on language access for immigrant and refugee community members in transportation, education and employment. We have found that there is a need for cultural access – not only language access – for these communities, which is why Juntos continues to be a part of this work. We owe it to our community to address issues that affect them, and not only focus on the issue we are trying to address.

Press Release:

For Media Inquiries, please contact Kay Bounkeua, Executive Director of New Mexico Asian Family Center: kay@nmafc.org / 505.363.7193

APS’s Proposed Newcomer School Launching Puts Immigrant, Refugee, and Asylee Students and Families at Risk

July 30th, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Global 505 in solidarity with Families United for Education, other community partners, and immigrant, refugee, and asylee students and families are holding a press conference today, Monday, July 30th from 6-6:30pm at Partnership for Community Action.

“We are demanding that APS hold true to their policy passed by the APS School Board unanimously in 2012 of supporting equitable and effective systems and utilizing the histories and cultures of our families as a foundation for education, safe and welcoming environments, expanded communication between schools and families, and building relationships and capacity. “ – Families United for Education

This past April, a letter was sent to the ABQ Public School (APS) School Board and Budget Steering Committee written by Rachel White, APS’s past Refugee Point of Contact, and the Newcomer Education Advisory Board in partnership with organizations and individuals supporting local immigrant and refugee communities.  The letter documented the need for equity in education in supporting newcomers within the school system, as many times both newcomer immigrant and refugee students tend to have limited educational backgrounds and low English proficiency due to lack and/or disruption of formal education. In addition, this population also reports high instances of discrimination, mistreatment, and bullying, with youth feeling overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of dropping out.

Some of the recommendations to the APS School Board were that:

  • Funding should be prioritized to newcomers in high school, specifically in Highland where there are less teachers accredited in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and where students have more educational and linguistic needs
  • Transportation must be provided for newcomer students district-wide whose parents decide that additional newcomer supports are essential to their children’s educations
  • Students should be placed where they have contact with peers of their age
  • Planning and implementation of a newcomer school should include collaboration with those working directly with immigrant, refugee, and asylee students and families, as well as those same families who would be impacted by this type of programming

In having conversations with the APS Administration following the presentation of this letter, there are strong concerns that the proposed newcomer school, which is set to launch in Fall of 2018, has not taken into consideration many of the recommendations by the Newcomer Education Advisory Board Members and that it will not meet the needs of newcomers.

More specifically, APS administration has stated in meetings with community members that there will be no transportation for the newcomer program; the program will focus primarily on language acquisition as opposed to focusing on educational content through a lens of English language learning, putting students further behind; funding will support a newcomer program for K-6th grade only; and the newcomer school is only available to refugee students, leaving recently arrived immigrants and asylees from participation.  Unfortunately, APS Administration has not been willing to meet with immigrant, refugee, and asylee students and families in an open forum for recommendations and feedback on their newcomer school.

“The only way for our immigrant, refugee, and asylee students to thrive within our education systems is to build school programs around their voiced needs and resiliencies, as opposed to creating programs without any input and feedback from the very communities we intend to support.  Without accountability, there can be no success.” – New Mexico Asian Family Center

*Newcomer Education Advisory Board included representation from Catholic Charities, Lutheran Family Services, NM Asian Family Center, Refugee Well-Being Project, NM Voices for Children, La Mesa Presbyterian Church, the Islamic Center of NM, Families United for Education, and the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

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Read more about the great work Global 505 is doing on their website at https://global505.com/.