Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Martinez Foundation Supports Diverse Teachers

L to R: Don Waring (Human Resources), Me, Joana Chacon (Teacher/Cascade M.S.), Edgar Martinez, and Diana Garcia (Principal/Cascade M.S.)

In Highline, more than seven-in-ten students are children of color, but nine-out-of-ten teachers are white. This week, I recorded a video where I spoke about our equtiy initiative, so I know that without looking it up. The latest numbers are 73% children of color, 10.5% staff of color. Our Latino student population is our largest ethnic group, at 33% of total enrollment. It's one of the reasons I speak frequently of equity and cultural competence. Our children need to see their faces reflected in those who teach them, and until our staff becomes much more diverse, it's important that all of us become as culturally competent as possible.

With Holli Martinez
Enter The Martinez Foundation, whose mission is to support diverse and highly qualified teachers. It's run by Edgar and Holli Martinez. (Yes, that Edgar Martinez.) In a time where foundations have increasingly complex giving strategies, theirs is as straightforward as it is logical: Give scholarships to Latino and other minority students who have the potential and passion to become great teachers. It's a winning strategy.

Today, I went to the Martinez Foundation luncheon in Seattle. I believe in the mission of the Martinez Foundation, and I was doubly joyful to see one of our Highline teachers as a star of the show. Yes, people were there to see Edgar and Holli, and the keynote speaker, Sherman Alexie. But our very own Joana Chacon of Cascade Middle School was featured in a Martinez Foundation video about how the Foundation supports new teachers.

Sometimes it can feel like we're in this alone. Our kids need our help more than ever, but our budget has been slashed three years in a row. Today was reassuring that others in the community support education (the event raised over $180,000!) and, together, I know we can close achievement gaps and give all of our students an education that prepares them for college, career, and citizenship.

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