Bell Gardens Elementary School Students Help Draft State Legislation
Fifth Graders Advocate to Include Mexican Repatriation Act In California School Textbooks
For anyone who has ever said to themselves “There ought to be a law!” -- meet Leslie Hiatt’s fifth-graders from Bell Garden Elementary. They responded to California State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s District-wide contest to introduce new state legislation by advocating for the inclusion of the Great Depression-era Mexican Repatriation Act into student textbooks and studies. As a winner of the contest, Hiatt and her students will travel to Sacramento to lobby for the bill.
The Montebello Unified students are among the first winners announced in the “There Ought To Be A Law” contest initiated by Assemblymember Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, who represents the 58th District and is also a product of Montebello Unified herself.
Garcia recently visited Hiatt’s classroom and described to students a recent trip to Mexico and Central America where she learned more of the plight of unaccompanied migrant children coming to America. In the past year, Hiatt’s students had been exploring similar current issues related to undocumented children. After her visit, Garcia encouraged the students to submit an entry to the “There Ought To Be A Law” contest.
Garcia was pleasantly surprised by the students' thorough research, despite the paucity of information concerning Mexican repatriation, and marveled at their presentation on the topic, which included skits, poems, PowerPoint presentations and book about the Repatriation Act. All of this made quite an impression on Garcia, who has now introduced the legislation to include the history as Assembly Bill 146.
“These students are the most prepared people that have lobbied me on a bill,” said Garcia. “I can’t wait to see them in action in Sacramento.”
The Mexican Repatriation Act, authorized by President Herbert Hoover, called for the unconstitutional deportation of over 1 million U.S. citizens and lawful residents of Mexican descent in California in the 1920s.
“It is greatly rewarding to see such ambition and creativity yield such a positive result,” said Superintendent of Schools Cleve Pell. “It is another example of the depth of our alumni as well as the potential our students have to succeed and exemplify progress and growth.”
“What a special experience Assemblywoman Garcia has created for our students to think creatively and collaboratively,” said Superintendent of Education Susanna Contreras Smith. “We are proud of the courage and the tenacity these students have demonstrated to develop a law that would impact future generations of students.”
"Coffee with the District" Series Engages Montebello Unified
In an effort to continue engaging Montebello Unified parents and community members, the District has launched a “Coffee with the District” series. The inaugural program aims to bring parents, teachers, District administrators and the community together to discuss topics of interest in an open, casual atmosphere.
Approximately 50 people attended the event held in the District Office Board Room on Jan. 21, which included words from Superintendent of Education Susanna Contreras Smith. To kick off the series, a presentation on Montebello Unified highlights, goals and current District programs and services was made by Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Dr. Anthony Martinez.
Following the presentation, guests were invited to discuss topics with executive cabinet members and staff with light refreshments and coffee in the District Office patio. Spanish interpretation and child care services were also available.
The series mirrors “Coffee with the Principal” events that take place at school sites across the District.
“With so many changes and shifts in education, it is our job to not only keep our families and community informed, but to also be available to answer questions and engage in dialogue regarding these topics,” said Superintendent of Education Susanna Contreras Smith. “This series simply presents another way to open the lines of communication and address any questions parents may have regarding their students’ education.”
A second “Coffee with the District” event will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the District Office. The series will continue to be held on the last Wednesday of every month through the end of the school year.
The forums will be held:
All “Coffee With The District” events will be held at the District Office located at 123 S. Montebello Blvd., Montebello.