Mayday rally with alliances
How We Began
The Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality (SKCE) was founded in the spring and summer of 1999 in response to the crisis in both schools and prisons. A multi-cultural multi-racial group of 24 strong-minded, passionate volunteers and community leaders of nine organizations organized hundreds of community members through meetings, testifying in committees, volunteer civic involvement, media coverage, and rallies. Leaders of the nine organizations became the Coalition board: 100 Good People, PCUN, Mano a Mano Family Center, the Migrant/Bilingual Parent Advocacy Group, Causa Immigrant Rights Coalition, NAACP Salem Keizer Chapter, Latinos Unidos Siempre, Willamette University MEChA, and Village Elders.
They fought against racism and discrimination in the educational system, especially in the areas of discipline, language of origin, achievement and graduation. The systemic failure to educate our children during that period of fast-changing demographics destroyed many lives. The new SKCE continued to advocate for changes to disciplinary practices through cultural competency training for staff, ending police involvement in schools, improving English as a Second Language programs and address disparities in achievement with research-based teaching methods.
Parent Leadership workshop
We created the Parent Organizing Project (POP) in 2004. Using Popular Education, we focused on providing educational opportunities for Latino/a/x Spanish-speaking parents to develop leadership, engage in their child’s education, and advocate for changes in their schools. We developed a parent-led curriculum, Educa e Inspira (Educate & Inspire), and impacted at least 6,000 Spanish-speaking parents by 2013.
Hispanic parents testifying before the Salem Keizer School Board
Our advocacy focused on parents’ rights to be involved in their children’s education, and for funding for English as a Second Language students. We organized hundreds of parents to advocate for their children and speak to the school board, and helped thousands more with classes and resources. A 2013 report published by the Chalkboard Project showed Salem Keizer School’s ESL students progressing at faster rates than white students, proof that the Achievement Gap was closing!
Our Earliest Mission
Equity, Accountability, Unity
- To Promote Equity for Our Children in Salem/Keizer Public School District and in the Community
- To Advocate for the Respect of Civil and Human Rights of All People in Our Community
- To Seek Accountability from All Salem/Keizer Community Administrators, Policy Makers, Staff and Employees.
- To Unite the Salem/Keizer Community and Speak with ONE Voice to END Discrimination and Inequality.
- We Support and Network with all Statewide Organizations and Educational Advocates who Support OUR Mission
SKCE’s first summer literacy program
Today, SKCE is a culturally specific bilingual organization led by our community of Latino/a/x parents and families with immigrant farm working histories. SKCE has made a unique contribution to the Salem Keizer Public Schools and to the state of Oregon in providing a successful model of parent engagement for increased education success. SKCE has expanded to helping parents learn how to teach their own children at home, while also becoming leaders in their home, their school, and their community. Our programs cover parent-led early learning, effective parenting, parent-led Spanish reading success K-3, parent advocacy and engagement in schools, parent leadership development, family mental health and peer support, and education systems change work.
Through two-way partnerships with SKCE, Latino/a/x parents have a large sphere of influence in Oregon. SKCE is part of alliances and networks across Oregon, and staff and parents have a role in education systems decision-making through community involvement and representation. Connections with universities such as WOU, U of W, PSU, Corban, and OSU provide interns, training and many opportunities for focus groups and community voice. Service and representation in education advisory committees at state and local levels also provide community voice, learning opportunities and funding. Nonprofit Alliances such as Oregon Partners for Education Justice, Alianza Poder and Communities for Salem Keizer Schools Coalition provide opportunities for influencing important education-related legislation to increase equity for our students of color and other marginalized groups across the state.