Keynote Speaker Ricardo Valencia, Santa Maria High School teacher, on the value of an Ethnic Studies curriculum in public schools.

Last Saturday, May 4th, the Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success hosted the 2nd Annual Social Justice Education Conference at Santa Maria High School. Truth in Recruitment was honored to be part of such an inspiring program. The Conference featured over a dozen organizations which lead public workshops on the necessity of education that focuses on social justice and equity. Truth in Recruitment facilitated a workshop that illustrated the roles race, gender, sexuality, income and education play into military recruitment. While it was great spreading our message to new people, the true power behind the Conference came from the personal connections we made with like-minded members of our community.

Angelica, parent of students at Ernest Righetti High School, giving testimony about her child being targeted by recruiters at a ERHS career day.

We met Jaime Cuello, a fourth grade instructor who had always dreamed of being the ‘fun teacher’ at school. Not only has Jaime met this goal, becoming a teacher that his students adore and respect, but he has exceeded his general duties as an educator. Jaime has made social justice a key component of his classroom, going beyond the required curriculum to teach his students about ethnic histories, social inequality and activism. Jaime’s students gain this knowledge with pride, sharing what they have learned with their fellow students and families.

Interns Doug, UCSB senior and Angel, Pioneer Valley High School alum, faciltate TIR workshop.

The Conference closed with a quote from Assata Shakur that reads, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Dr. Denise Isom lead the group as we repeated the phrase, coming together in solidarity for our various causes. The strength of community building was clear. Truth in Recruitment left the Conference with new allies and knowledge to continue our efforts back home.

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