The Santa Ana Sentinel

A Composite of a Teacher and Mentor

Posted in Opinion by Omar Ian Ávalos on September 16, 2011

“I do not make talents, I discover them.” – Jaime Escalante

More teachers need to depart from this idea about their students. This needs to be a teacher’s default attitude.

Not all SAUSD school teachers are bad ones and I’m not one to generalize. There are, however, teachers and counselors that don’t express enough interest in the educational advancement of some of their students, much less the advancement of a people.

The ongoing exhibit at the Old Orange County Courthouse concerning the segregated Mexican schools before the landmark case of Gonzalo and Felicitas Méndez vs the Westminster School District, reminds us of and confirms this attitude and perception of Mexican students that has been with us since then.

Students were tracked in those days to work in manual trades, in the 1960s that was still the case (refer to the HBO movie Walkout produced by Moctezuma Esparza) and even in more recent times, there is a case of at least one SAUSD counselor that told a student not to go to college and to consider doing something else with her life.

This is why I’ve always argued and pushed for Santa Ana youth to become business men and women and to think big. Why not own a franchise? Why not incorporate? Why not own commercial real estate and find a way to attain these things? Yes, I have and continue to argue for Latino people in Santa Ana to come into and consolidate themselves as a ruling class. It takes an economic force as well to have a say in the matters of the downtown for example, and there still is abundant opportunity for business there.

“It’s just Santa Ana,” said one “mentor.” Sound familiar? Or how about, “My kids at X school are better than the ones at this Santa Ana school.” These are typical views coming from teachers and mentors that I’ve come across, the type that dare say that they’re pro Santa Ana and tell others to lead by example when it comes to doing business, but prefer to take their business outside of Santa Ana.

It’s sort of like, “Let’s go to this coffee shop on Fourth street” and the other counters, “No, let’s go to the one in Newport Beach or Costa Mesa.” That shows me true colors.

How is that for mentoring? Where are the think tanks in this city that encourage the youth to consider thinking business? They don’t exist. They’re unstable, they get kicked out of places, and they don’t understand or refuse to implement a fundamental principle of vertical structural governance.

When you couple these characteristics you get a composite of a teacher and mentor that fails to teach kids how to fish.

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