By Peggy McLeod, Ed.D., Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development, NCLR
As millions of students settle back into their school routines, parents become reacquainted with the hectic yet predictable barrage of report cards, parent-teacher conferences, and GPAs that gauge children’s academic performance from elementary through high school. But what about first- and second-generation Hispanic immigrant parents, who may not be as familiar with the inner workings of our public education system?
While maneuvering the educational system can be cumbersome for any parent, some Hispanic parents face additional challenges that may include limited English language skills, the effects of poverty, and a general lack of knowledge about how schools function. In the midst of this new academic year, NCLR is highlighting the work we do to help parents overcome these challenges and promote Hispanic students’ long-term academic success.
Through our Padres Comprometidos program, NCLR reaches about 2,500 Latino parents at affiliated centers throughout the country in classes designed to promote strong connections between schools and parents. Currently being offered at 30 sites from Texas to Tennessee to Wisconsin, these classes help parents engage with the education system to better promote their children’s success.
At these multiweek classes, parents and students learn about the importance of attending college and the steps needed to get there, from maintaining a high GPA to participating in extracurricular activities. Parents less familiar with the education system learn what is expected of preschool, elementary, and high school students and gain a better appreciation for their children’s schoolwork. Parents also learn about the numerous resources available to help students pay for college and how to access scholarship funds.
During the program, parents learn the particular “language” of schools and participate more effectively in the education system by taking the initiative to call teachers with concerns, volunteering at schools more frequently, and encouraging their children to participate in extracurricular activities. Parents also increase their interest in their own personal development and form peer networks with their fellow parents which can support other aspects of their lives.
The success of Padres Comprometidos powerfully demonstrates that parent participation in children’s education is readily achievable within communities that face additional challenges. What holds parents back is often not rooted in disinterest, but rather in misunderstanding or a lack of information.
Once they became familiar with how schools work and what is expected of students, 100% of Padres Comprometidos parents expect their children to attend college, even while the vast majority of them have not attended themselves. Working together, Padres Comprometidos proves that with resolve and smarter efforts, we can lead our Latino children toward educational success. Let’s continue to help our students succeed!
This year, NCLR partnered with Box Tops for Education to produce and disseminate a short tool kit containing some of the information presented in the Padres Comprometidos curriculum. If you or your school are interested in receiving this tool kit or would like to find about more about Padres Comprometidos, please contact Oralia Mijares at [email protected]