Wilhelmina Yazzie and her 14-year-old son Xavier, who are both Navajo, live in Gallup with Wilhelmina’s partner and their one-year-old baby.
Wilhelmina is very concerned that her son doesn’t have the academic supports he needs to prepare for college. Although Xavier likes school and gets good grades, he struggles in his eighth-grade classes at his middle school and isn’t scoring at grade level on standardized tests. This gap between Xavier’s good grades and less than proficient test scores is of particular concern.
While Wilhelmina is committed to helping her son succeed in school and is happy to help him with homework, she knows he would greatly benefit from school programming designed for his culturally related academic needs.
For example, like many of his classmates, Xavier practices both English and Navajo at home. He struggles in writing and reading, but unfortunately the district lacks an adequate bilingual and English-language learner program. Also, he does not benefit from after school programs that would help him in specific areas in which he struggles with his schoolwork.
Wilhelmina believes Xavier’s classes are taught by inexperienced teachers. She observes that he needs more seasoned educators and college preparatory and advanced classes that would challenge and prepare him for higher education.
In addition to not offering him programming that would help him learn and thrive, Xavier’s school lacks adequate materials. His school does not always utilize up-to-date technology and he is not allowed to bring home textbooks and other class supplies.
Wilhelmina wants the best for her son, and recognizes that there is only so much the District can do with the resources it has. Xavier’s school desperately needs better supports and resources, such as improved teacher training and retention and language programming, to more effectively serve the students who make up New Mexico’s uniquely diverse student population.
The Yazzies are the named plaintiffs being represented by the Center on Law and Poverty in their suit against the State of New Mexico. They are just one of countless families across the state who are struggling to ensure that their children receive the education to which they are entitled.