As much as teachers and parents wish it were otherwise, Latino children are less likely than their peers to succeed in the public school setting. One factor behind this is that their parents are unable to access the predominantly English school environment. Quality translation and interpretation can help integrate families into the public school system and shrink the achievement gap for Latino children in public schools.
In California, only 28% of Latinos meet all of the college readiness criteria of the ACT, compared with 70% of white students. Hispanic students are almost twice as likely as their white peers to drop out before completing high school. It’s not that Latinos value education less than other ethnic groups. As a matter of fact, 67% of Hispanic parents say a parent can never be too involved in a child’s education, compared with 47% of white parents.
English-only public schools limit Latino communities
The fact is, the English-only model of the public school system severely limits Latino parents’ ability to be involved with their children’s schooling. This in turn limits the potential for Latino students to succeed.
In a world of increasingly important test scores, it can be nearly impossible for limited-English proficient Latino parents to help their children with homework or even make sure all of their children’s assignments are getting done. Worksheets, writing prompts, and assignment reminders can be incomprehensible, to say nothing of informational material sent home to parents about school events, field-trips, and parent conferences. While children from English speaking households may rely on their parents to keep their education on track, many Latino children are forced to grow up early and carry the full weight of their educations themselves.
According to federal law, public schools must provide all sent-home materials in any language spoken by more than 15 children. However, this law is rarely enforced due to the difficulty of tracking every piece of paper sent home in schools statewide.
It is up to public schools to provide translation services to students, not out of fear of punishment but because it is crucial to student success. In order to shrink the achievement gap between white students and Latino students, all school materials must be provided in Spanish as well as English. Schools should also take care to include other, less prominent languages that might be present in schools like Vietnamese, Arabic, and Mandarin.
K12 public education is a right
At Avantpage, we believe that quality K12 public education is a right that should be equally accessible to all. This means immigrant families must have access to translation and interpretation services at their children’s public schools.
Avantpage is experienced in educational translation and ready with the tools to help school districts make the transition to a more immigrant and non-English friendly model. Parents are a key piece of student success and by including them in their child’s education we may be able to reach students who need help the most.