As I shared in my blog about Why I Advocate, our KIPPsters inspire me to fight daily for opportunities for ALL children. Our promise to each of them is sacred.
KIPP alum and Georgetown University student, Josue Coronado, is taking advantage of one such opportunity with the KIPP Federal Policy Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C. this summer. His application shows his passion for fixing a broken education system and his committing to making a difference.
Our education system is broken. While most suburban, middle class students attend top schools, simply because they can afford them, lower income families are forced to fight amongst each other because of the limited spaces allotted for non-zoned “gifted” students in affluent public schools. The number of these bright, lower income students dwindles further as they are often victims of families plagued by ignorance: a state reflective not of their intelligence but their impoverishment. It is a cycle that continually oppresses low-income communities of the United States, subsequently subjugating them to a life of long days, manual labor, and hundreds of thousands of hours of work. Growing up in a predominantly low-income Latino community, I often saw my neighborhood plagued with the socioeconomic injustices stemming from a lack of resources. Education, or rather lack thereof, was one of them. Having received an education from KIPP Houston High School, and as I continue my studies at Georgetown University, I have made it my mission to reform education in America: a responsibility that ensures America’s constituents don’t have to relinquish what is arguably the most valuable commodity in the world, knowledge, because of their financial status.
My mother grew up in some of the poorest streets of Houston. Her mother, my grandmother, cleaned house after house, scrubbing floors on her knees to support her five children living in their two bedroom apartment in Houston. My father, like my grandmother, a Mexican immigrant, dropped out of the ninth grade to ease the financial constraints burdening my grandparents. He began working in the suburbs of the elite, landscaping with my grandfather, bringing in money to help put my tias y tios through high school. Flash-forward to two decades later and their son becomes the first in his family to attend a four-year university: to go on to la Universidad. Pero mira, this isn’t an accolade to be proud of but a problem that must fixed. Six older cousins, all graduates of high school, and they each laid their collegiate journals on the desk, never to be opened: never to be written in. This is the burden I carry, but it is not one that is in vain. I will tell how a Latino, son of immigrants, saw his grandparents, his uncles and aunts, his cousins, struggling to make ends meet, witnessed first-hand gang violence plaguing his community, and used it to give voices to those unheard.
But my story can’t stop at me. I want all underrepresented families to have their stories heard, to have their stories written not by someone else but by them themselves. However, first, they must have the opportunity, the access. Participating in this program allows me to take one more step in the right direction—one step closer to articulating the kind of barriers that KIPP students of color, and students of low-income families face. Congress and the White House must know, yes, there is beauty in our struggle, but even more beauty in our success.