At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.
We are pleased to announce our Education Advocate of the Month for June: Xochilt Lopez. Read about her advocacy for children in her community.
By Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Pasco Field Office
We are all fortunate to know Xochilt. While she is working on her own success as a student at Yakima Valley Community College, she is also ensuring that others around her focus on their success. Xochilt is a parent ambassador for the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), as well.
Xochilt first became introduced to League of Education Voters when she was president of the board at her children’s school in Yakima. Earlier this year, she went to Olympia to support ECEAP and the Early Start Act, and needed some extra help for her children. She met Julia Warth, our Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations, who connected Xochilt with me, the League of Education Voters Community Organizer in the Tri-Cities region.
Upon meeting Xochilt, I discovered a mom who was not only concerned for her children but also for the community’s children as well. It was right after the school tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Xochilt recognized that if we do not tend to our children, the children who suffer in silence, they either hurt themselves or they lash out at their community.
To help Xochilt, I provided her with materials from the Washington Education Ombuds as homework:
- Basic Education Rights and Opportunities in Public Schools
English| Español (Spanish)
- Protecting the Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools (Updated July 2012)
English| Español (Spanish)
After asking her which steps she had already taken, we came up with an action plan to help her children. To my delight, Xochilt read the materials I provided to her, most importantly so she would know that I was not misleading her. Xochilt followed our plan and, within a week, finally received the services she had been trying to access for her son for the past five years. (It is amazing what you can accomplish when you know what to do.)
And she didn’t stop there. Xochilt said, “Okay, what about all the other families and children who have been denied access to services? We need to host a forum to let them know how to access the education and mental health services they need for their children.”
Xochilt has been relentless in a wonderful way. We have met with school administrators to ask for a parent forum. She continues to let families know how to access services for their children. She invites families to meet with me. She invites parents and caregivers to parent education classes. And she invites parents to attend State Board of Education meetings.
On attending Yakima Valley Community College, Xochilt believes that studying creates success in life. She says, “I want to learn English, so I can better convey my ideas.”
One of her ideas is that better communication between school districts and parents would make for a world of change. Xochilt’s school district recently hosted a school safety meeting, and only about 25 parents attended. In light of the recent news events around school safety, the meeting should have been overflowing with parents. Right now, Xochilt feels a barrier between parents like herself and her school district, and it’s not just a language barrier. “Schools should be thirsty for what parents think,” she says. “Good communication is the foundation of education.”
When asked what she likes most about League of Education Voters, Xochilt says she appreciates feeling respected, and appreciates the tools we provide to parents. “LEV makes me feel like I am important,” she adds. Xochilt would like a LEV office in her hometown of Yakima, so that families there could learn how our education system works.
Every time we meet, we tell each other, “I hope you don’t get tired of me” as we chuckle. It has been a great pleasure to work with Xochilt.
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