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Latino groups launch campaign for schools

DENVER - Amber Mendoza wished she didn't have to stand in front of district headquarters Tuesday afternoon. But the East High sophomore is part of a movement to push for an equal education for Hispanic students.

<"all students="" in="" dps="" have="" the="" right="" to="" college="" preparatory="" education,"="" said="" mendoza,="" a="" member="" of="" jovenes="" unidos="" or="" youth="" united.="" "we="" believe="" that="" all="" dps="" students="" deserve="" equal="" services="" regardless="" of="" race,="" income,="" or="" legal="" status."="">

Dozens of students and community leaders gathered to launch the Campaign for Accountable Public Schools. It is a collaborative effort of Padres amp; Jovenes Unidos, the Latina Initiative and Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).

The groups are calling for accountability in academics by improving the low graduation rate in a district made up mostly of minorities. They want changes in the disciplinary system and health education. Mendoza and others are calling for more family-friendly school environments which are more welcoming to immigrant families.

Mendoza says because of a lack of availability of advanced subjects like Algebra for middle school students in low-income areas, they can never be on track to take AP courses which could earn college credits.

She says that's exactly what's happening to her right now at East High School.

"We as students demand that our schools give us a good college preparatory education to make sure that all students are functioning at or above grade level," Mendoza said.

The campaign is centered on getting 30,000 people to sign pledge cards promising a more fair system for all students. Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg applauded their efforts and asked immediately to sign one of the pledge cards.

"It's very, very inspiring - your focus here on academic achievement," Boasberg said. "It's so important for us to make sure all of our schools are welcoming to all of our families that our parents, our guardians feel a part of our schools."/>