Syracuse city schools; like many school districts nationwide have experienced rapid growth in the number of diverse, culturally and linguistically diverse students, and students from low-income families. From personal experience working in our community I know they are places of vibrant opportunity, of meaningful and exciting work. In the Syracuse city schools, a multi-cultural and diverse community shows up in the classrooms every day, inviting students, parents and teachers to grow as they learn from each other.
All is not well, however, in our city. As a mother, activist and volunteer in several school committees under the current and former superintendents I have seen some teachers, staff, administrators, and parents view their schools’ diversity as a problem rather than an opportunity. And sadly reality is that communication is broken and our schools are failing on the mission of educate our city children.
There have been intense discussion lately on the School board composition, in my experience the community at large not only understands but demands a diverse and inclusive board and is tired of the blame game and ready for cultural change.
It is time for leadership to promote an inclusive and nonjudgmental discussion, reflection, and engagement strategies that schools can use to establish positive learning experiences in their classrooms.
A diverse School board is not the solution for all the problems that our schools are facing, but it is a starting point.
Change has to start with leadership before it can realistically begin to take place with students. It is mandatory that we have a school board with cultural competence with the ability to form authentic and effective relationships across differences.
Maria Revelles Bio
Maria Revelles was born in Puerto Rico, and raised in Madrid, Spain. Is an organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199.
SEIU represents 1.5 million service workers, many of them health-care workers.
Over the years, Maria Revelles has led some of the most successful service-union organizing campaigns across the United States and in Puerto Rico, starting in the early 1990’s. First with the Federación Central de Trabajadores a local of the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) and after the year 2000 with UNITE Union and the USW developing organizing strategies and workshops on diversity; also founding and Directing education and solidarity projects with unions in the Dominican Republic for Women Union Leaders mostly in the Free Trade Areas and manufacturing.
Maria is the President of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Action League, of Onondaga County in Syracuse, New York, member of the Mayor’s Women Commission, Executive member of the Onondaga County Democratic Party Committee, part of the National Democratic Party Committee and a member of ACTS (alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse). Also Board Member of the Near West Side initiative.
Maria Revelles is the first Latina to serve in the Board of the Housing Authority of the city of Syracuse.
A strong believer in social justice and workers’ rights. Have lobby experience and a successful lobby record in Puerto Rico, Albany and D.C.
She advocates for and develops leaders within the community and encourages them to speak out on issues important to them, such as education, right to vote, health care and immigrant rights.