Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Getting immigrant parents involved

This op-ed in Newsday by Andrew Friedman of the DRUM Major Institute makes a lot of good points about the importance of providing translation services for immigrant parents. Although I think he is right to argue that NYC politicians have an obligation to support legislation that will help immigrants access services, the main point should be that increasing parent participation in schools (in a city where 25 percent of adults do not speak English) is too important to leave to squabbling over how quickly immigrants should be learning English (even though he correctly says that immigrants are trying to learn English but most classes in NYC are full).
This quote shows why the City Council (and Bloomberg) need to make sure that translation is being provided for immigrant parents at parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings and any other time they come to their children's school:

According to Linda Hodges, president of the national Parent Teacher Association, "When parents are involved, children have higher grades and test scores, better attendance, increased motivation, better self-esteem, higher graduation rates and a greater likelihood of pursuing a postsecondary education."

It's amazing that Bloomberg isn't backing the Education Equity Act, which would require the DOE to translate for parents and provide translated school documents, when Schools Chancellor Klein has said things like this: "We know that when parents get involved, schools improve and our children benefit." Part of me thinks that despite the mayor's well-publicized ad campaign in Spanish, immigrant concerns still aren't being taken seriously in this city. How else can you explain Bloomberg and Miller's tepid response to a relatively inexpensive initiative that would almost certainly improve schools (and probably test scores), even as both candidates continue to harp on education issues?

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