Bilingual teacher running for school board wants to improve English language classes
on September 24, 2020
When Demetrio Gonzalez-Hoy was 14, he and his family left everything behind in Puebla, Mexico in search of the “American dream.”
In California, Gonzalez-Hoy’s teachers were central to his success learning English and graduating from high school and college. They inspired him to become a bilingual teacher at Bayview Elementary School in Richmond.
But he soon realized the programs for English language learners were severely underfunded and kept failing students.
“Prioritizing African American and English language learner students is really close to my heart,” says Gonzalez-Hoy, 30, who graduated from California State University Sacramento. “The lack of support towards the bilingual program and English language learners is what first got me involved in advocacy.”
Now, Gonzalez-Hoy is running for West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) board trustee for area four.
Gonzalez-Hoy’s campaign advisor, Jesus Galindo, is a third-grade bilingual teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. The two go way back, as teachers and members of the United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) – an organization, Galindo says, Gonzalez-Hoy turned around. Before Gonzalez-Hoy joined UTR, the union wasn’t united and meetings were tense and unproductive, Galindo said.
“You need someone like Demetrio who constantly reminds you what it’s about,” said Galindo. “It’s about students and their parents and an education that will improve their quality of life.”
Gonzalez-Hoy worked closely with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which provides education funding particularly for English language learners, low-income students and foster youth.
“He’s really focused on how we can put more resources into our students, especially our most vulnerable students,” said Marissa Glidden, the current president of the UTR. “So something he’s been working on is how do we add more resources for English language learners, our flatland schools and our Black students.”
Glidden said Gonzalez-Hoy worked hard on the redesign of Stege Elementary School, a flatland school with the highest percentage of Black students in the district.
“He really piloted making sure that school got more resources,” Glidden said. “So they put a ton of increased funding, he helped work to get a community advocate to work just with Stege parents.”
Gonzalez-Hoy also wants to fully implement the 2017 Positive School Climate Resolution. The resolution passed in response to “African-American and Latino students” being disproportionately suspended for disruptive behavior, defined as “willful defiance.”
Black and Latinx students made up 90% of WCCUSD’s willful defiance suspensions from 2016–2017, despite representing only 71.4% of the student population a year before, according to the district’s website.
“We’ve been failing African American students over the years,” Gonzalez-Hoy said. “I’m running with the hope that I can work in collaboration with African American families, Latina families, immigrant families to support their kids, to provide them the programs and tools they need.”
(Lead photo courtesy of Gonzalez-Hoy)
To our readers: The race for the WCCUSD school board has changed. This year, the race is split up into five geographic trustee areas. The WCCUSD page has more information about trustee area boundaries. The following stories focus on some of the candidates running for board trustee for Area 4, which represents Olinda Elementary, Valley View Elementary, Sheldon Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Highland Elementary, Murphy Elementary, Tara Hills Elementary, Juan Crespi Middle and De Anza High School. We hope to bring you other election stories soon.
The League of Women Voters held a virtual school board candidate forum on Sept. 12 with 11 candidates seeking election in WCCUSD, excluding a forum for area three, as there is only one candidate seeking office.
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The suspension of students has always been problematic because the resources to properly address the reasons for the suspensions have not been consistently forthcoming. At Stege where I taught for over 10 years this was a major challenge . I’m glad to hear Stege will be receiving more much needed resources which will no doubt lead to lowering suspension rates. Unfortunately charter schools in addition to being very divisive are draining off much needed resources from our public schools which hampers consistent funding. This was a serious problem in my 32 years in WCCUSD as it was before I joined the district in 1986. Charter schools are nothing more than what Mayor Butt called them “a money machine.” at tax payer expense. Consistent funding, a problem before and during my tenure fear will continue. and this will be exacerbated because of the cancer of charter schools.
You may know that Prop 15, if passed ,will provide money to both public and money machine schools, This, like the exemption of agricultural interests will harm our children. We need to vote for it , but let’s be honest with ourselves Charter schools and agricultural interests will benefit at the expense of commercial and industrial interests.
Thank you for your insight!