Mandarin parent conference to focus on summer learning and services for English Language Learners & library resources. Second citywide parent conference in Spanish on June 15 at Central Brooklyn Public Library
NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today kicked off the first-ever Citywide Parent Conference for Mandarin speakers which will be followed by a second Citywide Parent Conference for Spanish speakers on June 15. The conferences are led by the DOE’s Division of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) with the Division of English Language Learners and Student Support (DELLSS), and its partners Learning Leaders, The Queens Public Library and The Brooklyn Public Library. These conferences will give parents with limited English proficiency resources and services entirely in their native language. At these conferences, parents will participate in workshops on summer learning opportunities, review services and programs for English Language Learners (ELL) and find out new ways to get involved in their student’s school. Translation and Interpretation services will be available for Cantonese, Fujianese, and English speakers.
“Families are valued and respected partners and bringing parents together in their native language is commonsense and critical to improving student achievement,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I am committed to creating opportunities for families to get involved in the education process and ensuring that there is never a language barrier between students, families and a great education.”
Last year, Yolanda Torres was appointed Executive Superintendent at FACE to renew the division’s efforts to create welcoming environments in schools for families, and develop stronger relationships between schools and their communities. During the first four months of school year 2015-16, parent engagement indicators increased dramatically. There were 8,000 school-based parent workshops, a 60% increase over the previous year and each community and high school superintendent’s office hired a Family Support Coordinators to serve as a dedicated point of contact for families.
“Reaching every parent, grandparent and guardian of our City’s children is top priority and I am proud of the incredible growth we have made to engage families as partners,” said Yolanda Torres, Executive Superintendent of FACE. “New York City families represent a wealth of cultures and traditions, and regardless of the language they speak, we will continue the vital work of providing opportunities and resources to all families.”
Additionally, under the leadership of Deputy Chancellor Milady Báez, DELLSS has opened nearly 50 Dual Language and Transitional Bilingual Education programs this school year, with an additional 38 new bilingual programs opening in September. This Spring, 15 schools with existing Dual Language programs were designated Model Dual Language Programs.
“These parent conferences are very valuable for parents of English Language Learners. All parents play a critical role in supporting their children in receiving an equitable education,” said Milady Baez, Deputy Chancellor for the Division of English Language Learners and Student Support. “It is our commitment to provide families with information about educational programs such as, Dual Language, English as a New Language, and Transitional Bilingual Education programs. These conferences offer them opportunities to gain knowledge about our educational system and hear from experts in their home language.”
Earlier this year, the Chancellor announced the expansion of language access services with the creation of nine new positions across Borough Field Support Centers to ensure that schools are providing families with limited English proficiency full access to translation and interpretation services. The expansion included an increase in the translation and interpretation services for Citywide and Community Education Councils, as well as new direct access to over-the-phone interpreters for schools, available after 5 p.m. for the first time. Interpreters are now available in 200 languages.
“We are committed to supporting communication between our schools and families through language access,” said Kleber Palma, Director of the Translation and Interpretation Unit. “Offering these Mandarin and Spanish conferences to families in their native language translates to better communication and true partnership in their schools and beyond.”
The Mandarin Conference at Flushing Queens Library will provide Chinese American families information on a series of topics including summer learning opportunities, how to join their school’s Parent Teacher Association or Parent Association and the process for becoming a Citywide or Community Education Council Member.
“Involving parents in the education process is vital to raising student academic and social outcomes,” said Mitchel Wu, member of the Citywide Council for English Language Learners. “Providing the Chinese-American community with a conference in their home language will help get them involved in their child’s school and take advantage of the wonderful summer learning opportunities that this great City has to offer.”
“As a newly arrived immigrant and mother of two English Language Learners, this conference will help me plan fun summer activities with my children that supports their learning,” said Laura Canela, a CEC 6 member. “I strongly believe that all parents want a chance to participate in their child’s education – its opportunities like these that make that chance a reality”.
"We thank the Department of Education for investing time and resources to support Chinese and Latino immigrant families," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "These citywide parent conferences will provide families with a better understanding of programs and services for English Language Learners, and we hope this leads to further engagement of these communities in these programs. We look forward to seeing these conferences implemented for more immigrant communities as well."
The Spanish Conference on June 15 will be held at the Central Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza. Presentations will focus on parent leadership opportunities, and how to access immigration and literacy services.
For more information families can visit their nearest Welcome Family Centers or the Family Welcome Center website.