Friday, April 07, 2006

NYC Public Schools : Not English Only

Well not if I can help it anyway. Many peeps read up on recent going ons in my daughter's elementary school. I have been working for years...and I mean years at finding various ways to ensure equal access to information and services for all parents within the school regardless of the home language. The school administration really has to be pushed though to do things like provide translation at meetings and have documents going home with students translated. Some of it is a lack of commitment on the part of the school and some of it is an absence of parents stepping up ( I mean I can't be the only bi-lingual Latina parent willing to confront the admin on this...or am I?).

I presented the President of the Parent's Association with a number of issues I wanted addressed including translation services, some sort of training for teachers on diversity ( I know...feh... but do you know how hard it is to get a teacher fired?), resource lists for parents and families and my grand proposal for the year, satellite meetings. This means additional Parent Association meetings offered in three additional languages (Spanish, Chinese, and Russian) to encourage parental involvement, improve equal access to information and services, ensure that non-English dominant parents have an equal say in policies but also to provide safe space. Surprisingly enough the idea to have the satellite meetings was approved, no problem. Later in a planning meeting I was given a warning to design and word the flyer for the inaugural Spanish language meeting in a non-offensive way. The concern wasn't about offending the non-English parents but rather the English speaking parents- you know- diosa forbid they have to confront their own language privilege, which really in this school goes along with race privilege because when I have translated at meetings its the white people rolling their eyes and sighing, thinking I'm not really translating but sending secret coded messages to all the Spanish speakers to take shit over. Because you know that's what "we" do when "we" get together.

Now if only I could get some parents to pull their kids out with me on Monday so we can go to the rally at City Hall on Monday.

On a somewhat unrelated post, the Parent Association President informed me at a meeting we had that he had read my blog, this blog and said it gave him alot of perspective as to where I was coming from. I sometimes forget how public this space can be, and most of the time I'm ok with being familia, my lovers, boyfriends...not so much (my current partner has asked me not to write about him here for example). I have to admit though I became a little flustered at the thought of the PA President reading my sexual exploits, abortion stories, and stripper stories, but hey the personal is the political no?


Blogger LeeSee said...

I've been thinking about this post since last Friday, I have a lot of thoughts about public schools however I also realize the situation might be just a little different in New York as opposed to California.

I emailed my daughter who works at P.S.314 in Brooklyn, she has not responded yet, I know she is busy so I'll respond without her input. My children say I never let the facts get in the way of a good arguement, sad but true.

Anyway, the public schools here in San Diego never give you anything, you must fight and scratch for everything. The upper middle class neighborhoods have the most resources, the poor barrios have the least.

Teachers are so over worked and strapped for resources it is amazing our kids learn at all, some teachers are true educators and deserve much more pay, others are merely warehousing themselves until they retire.

The best way to assist your child in getting the best education is to become involved in the school while your child attends, that could be as simple as attending a PTA meeting, visiting with the teacher, volunteering. This is very difficult for working mothers but even the smallest bit of free time you can donate pays off for your child.

Your continued involvement keeps the system honest and teaches your child the value of the power of one, you: one bad mami!

4/11/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous vegankid said...

mamita mala - you go, girl! That's awesome! way to take initiative. Any luck getting other parents to pull their kids out? I bumped into one of my students at the demo here. It made me very excited (and the next day he bragged to the other kids about seeing me there; like we were now in some secret club. gotta love the little ones).

i'm glad to hear that you experience with the PA prez reading your blog was a positive one. That is a bit scary, and why i tend to lean towards anonymity (though if folks paid close attention they would know that i've exposed: my first and last name, the city i live in, and pretty much where i work. and when you figure out where i work, its not hard to find the queerbo with the tattoos):)

4/13/2006 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ms.Maegan said...

No such luck Vegankid in getting other parents to pull their kids out.

4/13/2006 10:47:00 AM  

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