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Mexico and KCPS partnership brings educational program to East High School

Last week at East High School the Superintendent of the Kansas City Public School Dr. Mark Bedell and the Head Consul of Mexico/Kansas City office Alfonso Navarro-Bernachi unveiled a new, free, educational program called Plaza Comunitaria. According to school officials, the partnership program offers educational services for Mexican nationals and other Latinos with students enrolled in the school system.

The Plaza Comunitaria initiative was founded by the federal government of Mexico in order to ensure that its citizens have access to educational services, no matter where they are living. The Plaza Comunitaria at East High School is the first one in Kansas City.

According to Dr. Luis Cordova, director of the office of Students Intervention, “this program is open to the parents of the district if they wish to obtain their certification in elementary school. This is equivalent to a diploma in elementary school, middle school and high school and the program will allow them to do it on line through the Mexican consulate. Cordova added that it also offers an opportunity for those enrolled to get a college degree through the University of Mexico.

At the press conference Bedell said, “This is an opportunity to build a healthier community. We had to start addressing the needs of our English-learning families in this community. This is something that makes us better and stronger as an urban school district.”

Bedell acknowledged that there are many immigration issues that the country is facing but he wants to reassure families, “Children cannot learn if they are afraid that some authority figure is going to show up and carry them or their loved one away. … It won’t be tolerated here. Know that you are safe with Kansas City Public Schools.”

Navarro-Bernachi added, “At a time when many foreign nationals might be feeling anxiety about their status in this country because of White House efforts to limit foreign travel and immigration, the Comunitaria will also provide a place where immigrants can feel safe and get information about other community services.”

Navarro-Bernachi said that the Plaza Comunitaria originated in Mexico and started in the United States 15 years ago to address illiteracy. This program is now in 38 other states. “This Comunitaria is a vital component of our outreach to the community strategy ... so our fellow Mexicans know they are not alone.”

Bedell noted there are 60 different languages spoken by children attending schools in the Kansas City district. Most of them are Mexican or from other Latin American countries.