Friday, August 05, 2005

Translation, Not Discrimination

Yesterday I took about 20 teenagers from my organization to City Hall to rally for the Education Equity Act, which would require the DOE to develop a comprehensive translation and interpretation system for immigrant parents (previous posts here and here). A few other groups brought high-school students as well, and Council Member David Yassky, a sponsor and big supporter of the bill, showed up as well. The kids had some great stories to tell about having to translate for their parents (unfortunately they were not reported in any papers in English) and one of the most memorable was a girl from Bangladesh who said she must have been the world's youngest translator when she started translating for her parents in kindergarten.

The Education Equity Act is desperately needed in New York City because so many parents do not speak English well, and one of the easiest steps to make towards improving education is to promote real parent involvement. But it's pretty hard to tell immigrant parents to be involved if the school can't (or doesn't bother to) provide translation at parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings, or doesn't translate report cards or other school documents for parents.

Here is New York Sun write up of the protest:


About 40 students from immigrant families gathered on the steps of City Hall yesterday afternoon to protest school language barriers they say prevent their non-English-reading parents from being involved in their educations.The protesters called for the adoption of Intro. 464, which would require the city's Department of Education to make documents intended for parents available in the nine most common languages spoken in New York City and develop an interpretation system for meetings and events. According to the New York Immigration Coalition, 50% of public school parents require translation and interpretation assistance.

A lot of ethnic media were on hand, and here is a good, long article (in Spanish) from El Diario.

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