Franca Muller Paz was born in Lima, Perú and immigrated to the USA at the age of 1 to a working-class factory town called Paterson, NJ. Her father, a construction worker, worried about the troubling conditions of Paterson schools and feared drug-related violence affecting their family. In a life altering event, a friend offered her family a chance to move into his home just 20-minutes away, giving Franca the opportunity to attend well-resourced public schools.
Growing up between two worlds, the power of one’s zip code became overwhelmingly clear. Paterson's schools were in disrepair, lacking basic supplies, textbooks, and computers. Meanwhile, students at her suburban public school, only miles away, had access to the critical resources every child deserves. The injustice was undeniable. This experience laid the foundation for Franca’s passion and drive for educational, racial, and economic justice.
Since then, Franca has gone on to become a first-generation college graduate from Goucher College. In 2010, she earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Pennsylvania while working as a full-time teacher. It was in the city of Philadelphia that Franca began organizing to address inequities in the public-school system. She started with an attempt to unionize her charter school, in order to have greater power to protect the rights of teachers and students.
In 2014, a year after returning to Baltimore to teach at Baltimore City College high school, Franca supported the creation of Students Organizing a Multicultural Open Society (SOMOS), a student-led movement that fights against systemic injustice. In 2016, as an assignment for Franca’s students, the Baltimore English-Spanish exchange, Intercambio, was formed. Intercambio, a student-led organization, supports the language development of hundreds of student volunteers and adult learners.
A fighter for educators, Franca has been elected as a Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) Building Representative for the last 3 consecutive terms. In this role, Franca lobbies for fair evaluation practices, helps students and the ACLU fight for better building conditions, and organizes for equitable school funding through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
Recognized as a community leader in education and social justice, in 2017 she was appointed to serve on the steering committee for the progressive Baltimore Movement of Rank and File Educators (BMORE) caucus, who worked with another caucus (CEDE), to win control of BTU Teachers Executive Board and the BTU Presidency in 2019.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and massive digital inequity, Franca worked relentlessly with SOMOS students, BTU educators, and community advocates to win $3 million from City Hall to help close Baltimore’s digital divide. With Franca’s leadership, SOMOS is now working with city council members and activists in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Detroit to develop a three-city resolution demanding more from internet service providers during this unprecedented crisis.
The COVID-19 crisis has deepened the food access issues across Baltimore City, where 1-in-every-3 Black Baltimoreans lack adequate food access. In response, Franca alongside Rev. Annie Chambers and the Ujima People's Progress Party co-founded Gloria Richardson Solidarity Gardens. Together, they are working to challenge the food apartheid facing much of District 12 and are developing a long-term plan for food sovereignty.
If elected to the Baltimore 12th City Council District, Franca will continue to fight to uplift the voice of her community and together create a more equitable Baltimore with a real plan for racial and economic justice