Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Supporting Immigrant Parents

A quick update on the status Education Equity Act (in Spanish, Daily News article here), which is a bill passed by the City Council in December that would require the DOE to provide comprehensive translation services for immigrant parents in city schools. Bloomy vetoed the bill, saying that he already spends $10 million on translation through a centralized translation unit, and the City Council is expected to take up the bill again on Feb. 16. It originally passed with 35 votes and was veto-proof at the time, but the departure of 7 council members that supported the bill leaves the status of the Education Equity Act uncertain.

I strongly support this bill because much more needs to be done at schools to increase the involvement of immigrant parents. Bloomberg's translation unit is a good first step, but there needs to be a real effort to include immigrant parents in school decisions, especially since so many schools with large immigrant populations are having trouble. The immigrant parents at my middle school want to participate but are shut out of PTA meetings and other events because more often than not there are no translators present. These parents are trying to learn English (the ESL classes my program offers are full) and I really don't think this would change if the Education Equity Act passes, contrary to the arguments voiced by its opponents, but it is wrong to reject parents and endanger the educational future of their kids simply because they haven't learned English yet. Providing translation services doesn't discourage immigrants from learning English, but it is an incentive for them to participate more in American civic society and interact with their community members.

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