Meet Your Coach... Marilla Argüelles

Marilla Arguelles

Welcome to my bio page. This is where I get to explain why I founded NewTakeFilms and how it helps teachers reform and promote public education.

As a teacher, artist, and activist, I've had a full but challenging life, learning a lot (good and bad) about education, the current medical profession, and nonprofit management. Having navigated uncharted waters for most of my projects I know firsthand how exhausted and isolated teachers can feel, especially when they're overwhelmed by a lack of resources, and administrators who prioritize test scores over student satisfaction, involvement, and achievement.

Our family moved to California in 1978 after our ten-year old son began to recover from a sudden, devastating brain virus. While he got the operation he was denied in New York, we were shocked to learn how little the medical profession knew about brain rehabilitation.

After five years hunting desperately for a language based program that taught more than daily living skills, I founded Consensus, a grassroots agency for brain injury survivors. It became the first head injury program in California to receive Adult School funding. And soon it became a model for other non-profit educational rehabilitation programs, providing consultations, referrals and direct services to clients and families recovering from traumatic brain injury and stroke. Our successes were duly noted by medical professionals who swiftly created private, short-lived, residential models at 50 times the cost. This period taught me many difficult lessons:

  • The importance of finding allies who will believe in you even when you despair.
  • How to persist even when you don’t have answers and funding.
  • And perhaps most importantly, to beware of assumptions. It’s not enough for your staff and colleagues to champion the same cause, you must agree on the definition of success.

Consensus has now been renamed Parity and Consensus, but its mission has not changed fundamentally. It remains unique among rehabilitation programs for using Critical Thinking Skills Classes, computer training, remedial academics, and community resources to redefine success, not merely to produce wages. Our “About Us” page  here at NewTakeFilms describes the history and achievements of our previous high school media projects. And you can learn more about our background, origin, and supporters from my LinkedIn Profile. 

We realized in 1998 that our clients' greatest challenge was social isolation, and broadened our mission to include disadvantaged and learning disabled teens, providing computer hardware, media production, and community service training to public high school students. This allowed us to forge alliances with others using climate change and social inequities as fulcrums to “changing everything.” Our latest project, NewTakeFilms, gives high school teachers and community groups access our student-created films anywhere there's internet service. And it provides stimulating, provocative, timely content on current major problems to students with poor reading skills.

Our Webinars and library of progressive and provocative films support teachers and students who ask hard questions:

  • What is the goal of education? To provide corporations with compliant work crews, or to teach citizens how to select and evaluate their leaders?
  • Should we have leaders?
  • And what is the goal of work? as DuBois asked back in 1953.
  • To make people economically self-sufficient, to create “growth” i.e. corporate profits, to produce ever increasing piles of stuff, or is it to serve the needs of society?
  • Who decides what these needs are?

I’m especially interested in alerting them to brave and creative public school teachers who are already succeeding in challenging and surpassing the Common Core and STEM Education by developing community based service-learning projects. These include job training combined with life skills and continuing education.  

This network is growing daily.  With looming threats of budget cuts and private school vouchers, it’s more vital than ever. Learn how you can join this movement! Register on our Welcome page and sign up for your Free Report on 5 Strategies That Guarantee Student Success!