Stand UP Profile: Parent Educator Bianca Martinez+Share
Bianca Martinez understands what is like to attend a under-resourced school. The children of two Mexican immigrants, Martinez grew up in LA and attended Roosevelt High School, one of the school featured in Waiting for Superman because of its dubious distinction as a “dropout factory.”
In Martinez’s experience, the issue wasn’t only that some kids weren’t learning the information required for graduation: students and teachers didn’t even have basic school supplies. “I was taking an AP class,” Martinez explains, “and we were told the teacher [didn’t] have money to pay for books for this class.” The teacher, Martinez says, had to ask students and parents to fundraise to buy books and paper. Martinez says that while the results were worth the efforts, she couldn’t imagine the same dearth of materials at the schools down the street in Beverly Hills.
Defying the odds, Martinez graduated from high school and went on to college, a masters, and a career in healthcare. She attributes her trajectory in part to her parents. “My parents were both born and raised in Mexico and they didn't speak English. They never said I had to go college or anything like that,” Martinez says. But they were always setting a good example. “I got home and the TV was never on because they were both reading.” Her father talked often about the importance of voting and getting involved in politics for positive change, a belief that Bianca holds dear and helped get her interested in Stand for Children.
This semester, Martinez is teaching the Stand University for Parents English-speakers at Cesar Chavez elementary. She says she can already see a difference in her parents. Last week, she saw her parents use the examples from the parent-teacher communication lesson to brainstorm specific questions for the parent-teacher conferences. They brought the questions, a pen, and paper to the conference to record the teacher’s answers and to make sure to remember to ask follow up questions.
When asked why she’s involved in Stand UP, as opposed to the other community groups she’s been involved with in the past, Bianca is clear that she is motivated by the offer to keep parents continually involved. “I like the community organization thing,” Martinez says, referring to Stand’s organizing program. “It’s not like we’re leading these classes and then leaving. No. We have a community organizer to support these parents after we leave, [so our work is] going to keep going. Not many organization can say that. Not many.”
For Bianca, the possibility of parents developing leadership and then working to advocate for all students in Arizona is exactly the kind of political change her dad used to talk to her about.
“My work is so rewarding, so inspirational," Martinez says. “I think things can change and I want to be part of that change.”