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Mauro Bautista: Empowering Students and Their Families

UCLA Ed&IS alumnus, who received his teacher and principal training at UCLA Ed&IS, serves as Principal for Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez High School — a community school located in East Los Angeles.

Community schools are designed to empower students and their families by encouraging them to be deeply involved with every part of their school. Collaboration is key to success and shared leadership among the school community helps students come to power over their future despite being from a disadvantaged background. Bautista described recruiting and retaining quality teachers as “one of the highest leverage points for the success of our school.” He received his teacher and principal training at the UCLA School of Education, which focuses on preparing social justice educators to teach in an urban setting.

Bautista invites candidates from the UCLA Teacher Education Program (TEP) program to observe classes and do their student teaching at Mendez and often makes job offers to promising candidates before they have finished their preparation.

Mendez High School’s equity-focused practices have made possible an impressive shift in the academic outcomes of students in Boyle Heights. From making computer science education initiatives to equipping students with necessary furniture and online textbook subscriptions during the pandemic, everything Mendez does is rooted in treating the community like family and acknowledging that relationships undergird every aspect of education.

Bautista ties the work to expand course access back to the school’s deep commitment to addressing inequities and advancing social and racial justice. “Two groups who are often left out of access to computer science education … are women and students of color,” Bautista shared. “And research shows that many times its students of color who are denied access to the more rigorous classes, which include AP classes.… When students of color are given the opportunity to take these AP classes, they tend to do very well.” Under the Computer Science for All initiative, which is enacted in partnership with the University of California Los Angeles Computer Science Equity Project, each student takes an Introduction to Computer Science course and has access to higher-level computer science courses, including game design and AP Computer Science. The AP for All initiative requires that all students, including those with special needs, take at least one AP course during their high school careers, and it provides supports for them to tackle this challenge. This often sets students on a trajectory to take multiple AP courses.

To read more about the work that Bautista does and the impact of community schooling, visit The Learning Policy Institute profile on the school and his work. This article is excerpted from the profile by Charlie Thompson.

Download the brief by Charlie Thompson: Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez High School: A Community School That Honors Its Neighborhood’s Legacy of Educational Justice