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#AFTVoices: Rosalinda Midence, School Counselor at Madison Vocational Technical Park High School 

As educators, we understand how important it is to have representation and culturally-responsive teaching in our classrooms. Being in a school with educators who share their language and background can create a more welcoming environment and completely transform a student’s relationship to learning. Unfortunately, schools don’t always have the resources or policies that we need in order to retain educators of color, bilingual and multilingual educators and support our students.

As one of two school counselors at Madison Park, I’ve seen firsthand how this lack of support can impact learning and teaching conditions. When our union’s Director of Organizing approached me about creating a caucus for Latino members, I knew this could be a space where we shared resources and information to best support our communities. Across the state, many members of our caucus are voicing similar concerns – a lack of investment in our professional development, lack of mental health support for educators, and lack of services for the families we work with.

As a union, when we fight for strong contracts, we’re not only fighting for better working conditions – we’re fighting for better schools for our students. In many ways, we still haven’t recovered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our schools and communities. Many Latino families at Madison Park and throughout the state were struggling with housing insecurity, job loss, no access to the internet for remote learning, and adjusting IEPs. Educators were left with the difficult task of supporting families with limited resources, all while trying to process our own experiences in the midst of a global pandemic.

I’m proud of the work our caucus is doing to create a space for Latino educators to come together. Affinity spaces and caucuses are a crucial part of union organizing because they allow us to identify and amplify the issues that are impacting our communities. The ability to relate to our students’ lived experience allows us to advocate for culturally-responsive solutions. When educators come together to build identity-based caucuses, we can ensure that our unions are prioritizing the fight for racial justice in our organizing.

Join the AFT Massachusetts Educadores Latinos en Acción! For Latino/a/x members of BTU or AFT Massachusetts interested in building Respeto, Apoyo y Solidaridad.

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