New parent advocacy group Alianza Latina aims to increase Latino parent engagement in Rialto school district

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Photos RUSD: Alianza Latina Vice President, left, Ana Gonzalez and President Luvia Nava hold up the Alianza Latina logo. The new parent group in the Rialto Unified School District held its inaugural meeting on August 26 with almost 50 participants joining the virtual session.
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Alianza Latina has arrived with welcoming open arms.

Rialto Unified School District has welcomed the newest parent/student advocacy organization as a part of its education community, strongly building the parent, student and school triangle of success.

Alianza Latina is a new parent group, which has impressively already gained momentum through recruiting approximately 50 members at large within a couple of weeks of inception.

This group aims to increase Latino parent engagement across the District’s 29 schools and create a safe space to make positive impacts for students. It is widely recognized that the District, which has a student population of over 86 percent Latino, 8 percent African American, and 2.8 percent white, lacked an organized Latino group representation, prior to Alianza Latina’s inception.

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Members of Alianza Latina meet for the group’s inaugural meeting on August 26 via Zoom. The meeting was held virtually. The group will hold its second meeting on September 16, which can be joined by using the link https://tinyurl.com/AlianzaLatina1.

On August 26, 2021, Alianza Latina held its inaugural virtual meeting with more than 50 participants in attendance, including parents, school and District level staff: teachers, support staff and administrators. The virtual meeting also included RUSD Board of Education Vice President Edgar Montes, representing the Board of Education, RUSD Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtémoc Avila, and Lead Strategic Agent of Strategics, and Congruence and Social Justice, Dr. Darren McDuffie among the District level participants.

Historically, most K-12 school districts, such as the RUSD, welcome organized, structured and State-supported mainstream parent organizations such as Parent Teacher Organization (PTA) and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) which fulfill various positive school-supported roles, as parent volunteers help with school activities. 

According to Montes, who is not only the Vice President of the Board of Education but also an RUSD parent, there is room for a variety of voices and ideas when the purpose is to support student success. 

“As a member of the Board of Education, it is one of our shared responsibilities to promote inclusion, equity and access in the Rialto Unified School District. We are extremely fortunate to welcome Alianza Latina, as a new parent organization,” replied Montes. “We support any of the  District’s parent organizations which champion positive educational causes through advocacy. We look forward to the growth of Alianza Latina, as another support mechanism for parents and students. These are historical times for all of us in the RUSD.”

Alianza Latina President Luvia Nava and Vice President Ana Gonzalez said they were excited by the feedback that they received since introducing the new parent advocacy group. 

“It was very emotional,” Gonzalez replied. “Just to hear the way parents were expressing that this is long overdue, and they were excited to have a group where it’s a safe space to talk about their needs. I got a little bit emotional because we have worked so hard. To hear the feedback we got was heartwarming.”

Many of those in the inaugural virtual meeting were bilingual. However, translation was also available. 

According to Gonzalez, the organization began taking shape in February 2021 after years of private and public conversations between parents on how to bring resources to a diverse group of parents. Nava and Gonzalez introduced Alianza Latina to the RUSD Board of Education in June 2021, when they both attended the school board meeting.

Parents were met with a warm reception and support from District staff, of which some are RUSD parents, as well.

“We want our parents to be allies,” Nava replied. “There is a large group of parents in the District who only speak Spanish and they encounter language barriers when they visit their child’s school for meetings because they feel they won’t be understood or their voices won’t be heard. We want to become an ally to the parents and together, form a larger group that is inclusive of everyone, not just those who speak English or Spanish, so that everyone can feel confident in participating.”

In that spirit of inclusiveness, the group’s logo features the well-known Rialto Bridge with a tree growing from the roots.

“This group is meant to build that bridge that we are so proud of in Rialto; that bridge of progress,” Gonzalez added. “We want to grow that unity and make it stronger as far as families and District staff. We want to strengthen that bridge and make sure that we have a strong foundation for the success of our students.”

Along with Nava and Gonzalez, Alianza Latina’s Executive Board Members are: Secretary Mirna Ruiz, Hospitality Officer Maria Rangel, Alternative Hospitality Officer Maria Sandoval, Parliamentarian Ricardo Garcia-Felix, and Communications Officer Catherine Vega. Dr. Manuel Burciaga, RUSD Lead Academic Agent: Secondary Innovation, serves as an advisor for the group. Alianza Latina plans to hold meetings on the third Thursday of each month. Due to the rising concerns of COVID-19, Alianza Latina will continue to hold virtual meetings.

The next meeting will be held on September 16, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in joining the meetings can do so via Zoom by using the link https://tinyurl.com/AlianzaLatina1.

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