New Mexico teacher and DACA recipient Ivonne Orozco in her classroom
Despite Latinos making up nearly one-quarter of students nationally, Latinos account for only 8 percent of teachers. This lack of representation can have a detrimental effect at multiple levels, as Latino educators can help bridge gaps between monolingual parents and school administrators. And, for Latino students, the presence of Latino educators can be deeply personal and affirming:
For students, the gap means that they are not often able to see themselves represented in teaching positions and positions of authority. Latino students currently lag behind other groups in graduation rates from both high school and institutions of higher education. Studies have shown that for students of color, having teachers that reflect their identities has the benefit of providing them with role models, higher standards for their own efforts, and a deeper cultural understanding of the context of their lives and backgrounds.
But this shortage could worsen due to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda. With the future of the Deferred Action in Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in limbo, up to 20,000 DACA-eligible educators nationwide could be forced out of their classrooms—and the only country they’ve eve known as home. Texas alone has 2,000 educators enrolled in DACA, including Dallas teacher Luis Juarez:
Juarez, a 26-year-old math and science teacher at Lipscomb Elementary, teaches in a school where many students are from immigrant families. He speaks English and Spanish.
“My hope is that they see myself in their shoes,” he said. “That they work to prove to their parents that they made the right decision to to come to this country.”
“The moment parents see me break down and lose hope, they are going to lose hope,” Juarez said. “They know if Mr. Juarez still has hope, they are going to have hope, too.” The Center for American Progress recommends the DREAM Act and “increasing federal funding to attract more Latinos to teaching” as next steps, but wholly unqualified Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is more interested in dismantling schools than building them up. Students already have their hands full fighting for Congress to make their schools safer—and now we want to take their teachers away, too?