The First Three Years of LAEN: From Unity-Seeking to Equity-Seeking
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Two co-founders of the Latin American Education Network (LAEN)—now the Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN)—discuss the evolution of this grass-roots, volunteer-led community organization, which was created as a response to the lack of collective action around the high “drop-out” rate of Latinx students in Toronto, Ontario. Using a social movement theory framework, they discuss engagements with bureaucratic schooling institutions, members and community. Initially, LAEN sought complete unity in advocating to the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the two largest publicly funded boards in Toronto. From 2012 to 2015, this desire for unity evolved into a need for equity-minded solutions which challenged the possibility of complete unity. Some of the pivotal points in this now documented history include the journey for a more inclusive identity label, listening to the voices in our community through yearly conferences and challenging the manner in which history/heritage months are celebrated by the school boards. This paper documents the on-the-ground history of this evolution, successes and challenges along the way and a new hope for the future of the organization through new leadership and equity-led actions.
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