Improving College and Career Opportunities for Latino Students Requires an Early Start
Tips to Bridge a Career and College Ready Culture between Schools and Latino Homes
When it comes to information regarding how to help their children graduate high school, attend college, and embark on careers, many Latino parents feel lost and disconnected from the process. Families in School, a program that seeks to narrow that gap, has found that parents want to be more informed and to become equal partners with the schools, but don’t know how. The organization believes in the power of networking, grassroots action and education to bring about change. They have developed culturally-relevant parent curricular programs to engage families in the education of their children. Below are some tips inspired by their mission:
- Hold Workshops That Involve Parents in educational reform. You can’t help the student without helping the families.
- Enroll families in content and grade-specific informative sessions
- Hold College Preparation workshops
- Offer Personal and Leadership Development series-such as, Financial Empowerment, Civic Participation, and Healthy Living
- Provide Parents with leadership and advocacy tools. Students whose parents are leaders, are inspired to do the same.
- Hold Networking Receptions and Conferences on education.
- Provide Learning Exchange opportunities for families and students by inviting leading experts, academics, civic engagement leadership, and educational empowerment professionals to your schools.
- Parents want to understand how they can help their children make it to college, every step of the way.
- The Earlier the parent gets involved, the more powerful the outcome.
- To get an early start, promote programs where families read together. Start book exchange programs, such as Read with Me.
- Encourage the civic involvement of parents in advocating for all students
- Develop communication tools to reach all families. Use technology to keep families up-to-date on important issues and steps.
- To help overcome language barriers provide bilingual information and referrals to ESL courses in your community. Offer or host ESL programs that teach literacy with an emphasis on educational lingo and college readiness steps.
- Develop Parent Ambassador Programs in your own schools
Hold meetings and invite news reporters to talk about the need for educational supportive programs.
- Provide Networking Opportunities between Parents and Community Leaders
- Assess the needs of your families and students that may be getting in the way of a strong school performance.
- Identify the nonprofits in your community that help address those needs. Invite nonprofit organization leaders to your school.
- Hold question and answer sessions among nonprofits, schools and families.
Increase Parent Knowledge about Local and State Educational issues.
- Hold workshops to show parents how to participate in the legislative process.
- Show them why it matters to participate in efforts to influence policymakers.
- According to NACCHO, National Association of County and City Health Officials, elected legislators pay more attention to communications from their constituents than from any other source. The good news is that communities can benefit from the support of an issues-friendly legislator.
- Encourage parents to partner with their students, write to their local legislators, introduce themselves, and raise the educational issues that concern them and your school.
- Have parent ambassadors and student leaders meet with the legislators in your district. Go to his or her local office or, invite them to walk through your schools.
- Work with the member’s office to provide press coverage.
- Take photos.
- Establish friendly relations with the staff that support your Senators and Congressional representatives with Educational Matters.
- NACCHO suggests writing letters that are timely and related to an issue on the Congressional agenda, and that your school is asking the legislator to do (support, oppose, expand on.)
- NACCHO website includes links to sample letters that can be customized and sent to your legislator. Here, you can also find tips on how to prepare to meet with your legislators, how to work with legislative staff, how to contact the House and Senate, and the Library of Congress, where you can locate details on all pieces of legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress since 1989.
Students love seeing their parents involved in their educational journey. This strengthens the family and promotes a culture of learning.
Like all parents, Latino families want their children to grow up successful and to become leaders. Immersing them in a culture of advocacy, education, and networking for change is a great start. Being aware and civically-engaged matters. If families are not engaged in the decisions that are being made about their schools and their communities, the decisions will be made without them.