Hola, my name is Judit Vega, and I am running for the District 3 seat for SAISD board elections. I was born and raised in San Antonio, and have lived here in District 3 for most of my life. I am a proud SAISD alumni, and attended Steele Elementary, Davis Middle School, and Brackenridge High School and my kids have attended Bonham Academy and the Advanced Learning Academy.
I am running because as a mother, resident, and community worker I would like to see community- centered schools that honor students, school workers, and family contributions to decision making. During this time, we need school district leadership that has our collective wellbeing foremost in mind as we move forward in recovery efforts from the pandemic. Our students, our school workers, and our familias are the heart of our schools and we must unite together to co- create healthy communities and thriving children.
I graduated from Brack, and after graduation I went away to college at New York University. I lived for a while in different places- New York, Mexico City, Los Angeles- but came home with my oldest son to take care of my mom who was sick. We have been here ever since.
I’ve worked for many years in community and public health, and particularly in I would say neighborhood- based health. My work has been about organizing communities to advocate for the things that would create healthy communities- having access to healthy foods, places to be active and socialize like parks, open spaces and trailways, advocating for adequate and affordable housing, and building relationships with your neighbors to create safe environments.
A connected and organized community is a healthy community, where every individual has the possibility to thrive. For this reason I think it is so important for SAISD to implement the community schools model, to promote the connections and relationships to each other and embed the school in the broader community. I based the creation of the Healthy Neighborhoods Program at the local health department on this model, back in 2012. The community school model promotes the development of neighborhood democratically run schools that are the heart of the communities that they are in. This model is of utmost importance to implement now- as our community weathers and recovers from the pandemic in the years ahead. The needs are great- from food insecurity and evictions that families and students are facing, to increased pressures, risk and stress that our school workers are facing as schools remain open even as cases are the highest that they have been. We must build strong neighborhood schools and communities so that we can survive and thrive together moving forward.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in most of our schools. SAISD has increasingly followed a model of privatization and handing over the management of our schools to outside agencies and consultants. Often, the closing and merging of schools is done in the name of promoting educational equity- providing access to resources to more students. It would be most equitable to share resources and attention between all of our schools- this is not happening, our tax dollars are being used towards in- district charters and boutique schools. This relinquishing of control furthers the message to our communities and students that we are not sufficient to help or save ourselves. This harmful messaging is consistent with that that I received as an inner city student over 25 years ago, that we as poor, working class black and brown people needed to be repaired by saviors from the outside, and that in order to succeed we have to leave our communities behind. We need to reject this narrative- we as students, parents, teachers, school workers, and community members know best what is best for our schools and what we need.
Often we accept this messaging, even subconsciously, because our schools often aren’t culturally affirming or accepting of the realities and cultural roots of our students and families. The District should implement curriculum and strategies that are culturally relevant, culturally-sustaining, and anti-racist. This past year my fifth grader experienced full tolerance, acceptance, and compassion from all of his teachers at Advanced Learning Academy as our family was separated at the beginning of the pandemic, from late February of last year to July, due to immigration policies. He was having a very difficult time. For the several months that his father was in El Salvador, his teachers provided structure and emotional support for him during a very difficult time, even through the switch to virtual and remote learning. The teachers of the school were part of a wider net of community and family support that my family discovered that we had that helped us to weather this crisis. All of our students and families deserve this level of affirmation, advocacy and support.
I’m so excited to be part of this slate of community- based and progressive candidates that are going to flip the SAISD board to be more student, worker and community- centered. In these unprecedented times we need leadership that know and work deeply with our school communities to create a more welcoming district that serves our families and workers first, not the interests of outside agencies, independent consultants, or developers who seek only to profit from our suffering with false narratives of improved test scores, innovation, and educational equity. Join us in this collective effort- please sign up to volunteer, donate, share social media. Thank you for supporting my campaign.