Things That Matter

A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Advocates against the use of standardized tests for college admissions have long argued that the use of such exams sets back students from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have disabilities. Aware of the leg up it gives to privileged and non-disabled students an advantage in the admittance process, they’ve rallied for schools to end such practices.

And it looks like they’ve just won their argument.

A judge has ruled that the University of California system can no longer use ACT and SAT tests as part of their admissions process.

Brad Seligman is the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California on Tuesday. The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California include five students and six organizations College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition.

In his decision, Judge Seligman underlined that the UC system’s “test-optional” policy on UC campuses has long given privileged and non-disabled students a chance at a “second look” in the admissions process. According to Seligman, this “second look” denies such opportunities to students who are unable to access the tests.

The decision is a major victory for students with disabilities and from underprivileged backgrounds.

News of the decision comes on the heels of the university system’s ruling to waive the standardized testing requirements until 2024.

In May, a news release asserted that if a new form of a standardized test had not been developed by 2025, the system would have to put an end to the testing requirement for California students. On Monday, the judge’s ruling took things further by banning the consideration of scores from students who submit them all together.

“The current COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test sites,” Seligman wrote in his ruling. “While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil.'”

A spokesperson for the University of California said the university “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.”

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the UC system is considering further legal action in the case. The system said that its testing has allowed for an increase in admission of low-income and first-generation-to-college-students for the fall of 2020.

With UC being the largest university system in the country, Seligman’s ruling is a massive deal. Students and advocates have long fought for the elimination of these standardized tests arguing that they do not accurately reflect a student’s academic ability.

“Research has repeatedly proved that students from wealthy families score higher on the SAT and ACT, compared to students from low-income families,” reports CNN. It’s important to note that the analysis by Inside Higher Ed revealed that the “lowest average scores for each part of the SAT came from students with less than $20,000 in family income. The highest scores came from those with more than $200,000 in family income.”

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Miami Student Becomes First Latino DACA Recipient To Become A Rhodes Scholar And He Says He Owes It All To Elementary School Teacher

Things That Matter

Miami Student Becomes First Latino DACA Recipient To Become A Rhodes Scholar And He Says He Owes It All To Elementary School Teacher

Esta Pratt-Kielley / AFP / Getty

When we look back at our time in elementary or middle school, how many of us distinctly remember a special teacher or school official who went out of their way to help us?

Sure, for many of us school wasn’t always the best place. From teasing and bullying to stress over grades and homework, school can be a stressful place. But it’s also a place often filled with caring, compassionate teachers hoping to build our next generation of Americans.

One of those Americans is Santiago Potes, a DACA recipient originally from Colombia who has just been named a 2021 Rhodes Scholar – the first Latino DACA recipient to earn such a distinction.

Santiago Potes has become the first Latino DACA recipient to become a Rhodes Scholar.

Over the weekend, the Rhodes Trust announced its lineup of Rhodes Scholars and among them is the first ever Latino DACA recipient – Santiago Potes, a 2020 graduate of Columbia University.

In their announcement, the Rhodes Trust wrote, “Santiago has been a teaching or research assistant for leading professors in physics, philosophy, social psychology and neuroscience, and won numerous college prizes for leadership as well as academic performance. He is widely published on legal issues relating to DACA status, was one of the DACA recipients featured in a brief filed with the Supreme Court to preserve DACA.”

Today, Potes works as a full-time paralegal for a Wall Street law firm and is the head teaching assistant for a physics class at Columbia. He’s also a foreign policy expert who speaks nine languages and plans to study international relations during his two-year program in England.

“I really just want to protect  the United States because it really is the only country that I know, and I think that my skills and languages and history and political science could be best used in such a career,” added Potes.

Potes traces his success back to an elementary school teacher, herself an immigrant.

In an interview with CNN, Potes says that he owes all of his success and determination to an elementary school teacher that he saw twice a week from second to fifth grade. “She was one of the biggest blessings that I’ve had in my entire life so far,” he said.

“My parents didn’t go to college. My parents had me when they were 16 years old. So, she really became kind of like my first mother figure actually. She went out of her way to teach me a rigorous education,” he added.

He said he would not have reached this level of success if Esteva had not told him from an early age that she believed he could do great things. For her part, Esteva said she just spotted what was already innately in Potes as a child. “I planted a seed in fertile soil. You took care of a plant. You are the one who made it possible.”

Esteva is a Cuban refugee and immigrant to the United States herself. She said it means even more to have teacher and student, both Latino immigrants and refugees, two generations of opportunity and success in the United States.

His story is one that many in the undocumented community can relate to.

Although Potes had to overcome serious struggles to follow his dreams, overcoming homelessness and a difficult home life, he owes his future to his time spent in the classroom.

Like so many in our community, Potes came from parents who both worked to provide for the family. They themselves were young, undocumented parents. His dad washed cars. His mom worked at a major chain supermarket.

“I loved school because it got me out of the house, which wasn’t a good environment, both my parents were really, really young when they had me, and they just didn’t like me” said Potes.  “It was because my teachers became like maternal figures for me.”

It was around Thanksgiving, years ago, when the family was awakened by an early morning banging on the front door to their cramped studio apartment from what he later came to find out were U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The 12-year-old managed to grab his school bag and the family escaped through a backyard and were later  picked up by one of his father’s Colombian friends, then taken to a residence where he, his younger brother and parents stayed on a couch for more than a year.

Although Potes is the first Latino DACA recipient to win a Rhodes Scholarship, he’s not the first DACA student.

Although many people associate DACA recipients with being undocumented Latino migrants, that’s not the case. In fact, the first DACA recipient to be named a Rhodes Scholar was Harvard University student Jin Park, of South Korea.

Park, 22, arrived in New York City with his parents from South Korea when he was 7 years old and grew up in Queens, N.Y. Park studied at Harvard working toward a degree in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in ethnicity and migration rights.

“I’ve proposed two master’s degrees for my studies at Oxford: one in migration studies, the other in global health science and epidemiology,” Park says. “I want to do those two degrees and come back and hopefully work in the context of public health department … [to] implement evidence-based policies to improve and work on immigrant health.”

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Learn A Little Bit Of Nahuatl With These Informative TikTok Language Lessons


Learn A Little Bit Of Nahuatl With These Informative TikTok Language Lessons

@fiercebymitu / TikTok

Nahuatl is an indigenous language that has been spoken in Central Mexico since the seventh century. The language comes from the Aztec people who called southern Mexico and part of Central America home. Xochitl Hernandez is here to break down the indigenous language one TikTok video at a time.

Xochitl Hernandez is here to teach you a little bit of the Nahuatl language, starting with her name.


Here is what my name, Xochitl, means in Nahuatl, a language from the Aztec indigenous people whose roots are in Mexico. #FamiliaLatina #Aztec #hhm

♬ MI MUNDO – Nomad & Lola

In the first post about the Nahuatl language, Xochitl breaks down her name, which means flower. As Xochitl explains, xochi is the word for flower and the -tl added to the end makes it a noun. It is probably best to watch the TikTok in full to get the full lesson.

Indigenous languages are having a moment as people are trying to bring back parts of their ancestral heritage. DuoLingo, the language-learning app, includes two indigenous languages in its arsenal. On the app, you can now study native Hawaiian, also known as ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, and Navajo, also known as Diné bizaad.

Of course, she teaches you how to say mom and dad.


Nahuatl lesson: learn how to say mother and father in Nahuatl, the Aztec language! #FamiliaLatina #hhm #Nahuatl #indigenouslanguage

♬ MI MUNDO – Nomad & Lola

These are two very important words in anyone’s vocabulary. The Latino family unit is one of the most important things in Latino culture. We all have family members we see regularly and talk to even if we don’t like them. Why? Because that’s just how it is because Latino families stick together.

Don’t worry. She made sure to include a lesson on possessive prefixes.


Welcome to another Nahuatl lesson with @xoxochimilca ! Let’s learn about possessives (my, your, our). #FamiliaLatina #hhm #Nahuatl #learnontiktok

♬ MI MUNDO – Nomad & Lola

Possessive prefixes are very important. It is a way to say if something is yours, theirs, ours, etc. For the Nahuatl language, the possessive prefixes are attached to the front of the word to differentiate. It is very similar to the Spanish and English languages in how they are used and presented.

The prefixes are “no-“: my, “mo-“: your (singular), “i-“: his/hers/its, “to-“: our, “amo-“: your (plural), and “im/in-“: their.

Xochitl even broke down terminology for Día de los Muertos.


Feliz #DiaDeLosMuertos ! Today’s Nahuatl lesson is on the word Zemoalxochitl! #HolidayTikTok #DDLM

♬ MI MUNDO – Nomad & Lola

Día de los Muertos is a very popular holiday throughout Mexico and some parts of Latin America. Xochitl breaks down the most important term from Día de los Muertos, the marigold flower. The flower is commonly known as calendulas in Spanish but are called zempoalxochitl. Zempoal means 20 and xochitl means flower. So, literally is means 20 flower but Xochitl explains that it means more like flower of many petals.

Make sure you keep checking the FIERCE by mitú TikTok to keep learning some Nahuatl on your downtime.

READ: This Indigenous Tik Tok Star Gained a Massive Following By Showing Off the Beauty of Her Culture

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