Brittney Garza saw educational inequity first hand growing up. While she thrived in school, and would even beg her mom to send her to summer school, her siblings had very different experiences.
“The older we got, the more obvious the difference in our educations became. I was lucky in that I always enjoyed learning; I was good at it.”
When she started teaching, she was drawn to the students who most reminded her of her brothers and sisters.
“When asked about why I teach, or why I care, I think about my siblings. None of them made it through high school, let alone college. This has encouraged me to seek out my quieter students and the rambunctious ‘tough customers.’ I’d like to think that if my siblings had had teachers more invested in who they were as people, they would have gotten farther in traditional school.”
For Brittney, being able to advocate for the students she cares about was one of the reasons she joined the School Organizing Cohort.
“I initially thought that the workshop was going to help me learn how to advocate for policy changes I wanted to see at my school. I was really surprised when we were coached through the organizing cycle.”
Understanding her own views on power and how people use it was an important part of the experience for Brittney. And the School Organizing Cohort was the first step in her development of her own theory of change.
“Change cannot be centered around my opinions or thoughts, but instead should be rooted in the community where the changes are most needed. I’m of the opinion that those most impacted by educational inequity should be the loudest voices when trying to find solutions, as they have the most knowledge of the broken parts of the system.”
Brittney lives that practice as a member of ONE Houston, a group that is fighting for change in Houston, Texas.
“Working with ONE Houston has allowed me to refocus on issues, not problems. My volunteer work with ONE Houston is currently targeting the over-policing of black and brown students in schools. We’ve worked to engage students, parents, teachers and well as board members in these conversations to make sure that schools are a safe space for all of our kids.”
If you want to learn build grassroots power with students, parents, community members, and fellow teachers to change the policies that perpetuate educational inequity, consider joining the School Organizing Fellowship. The fellowship will run throughout the 2018–19 school year for current teachers. Apply by May 18.