One parent leader, Hsa Mlu, recalls the difficulties in translating school documents before the new language services: “In the past, when she received communications in English from her children’s schools, she would rush it over to a friend’s house — even in the rain or snow — to ask for help.” For a mother of four school-age children, translating and interpreting school documents is not only time-consuming, but also of the utmost importance for her children’s success in school and her ability to navigate the school system with them.
Aurora Public Schools have begun translating school documents, and training secretaries and school staff “to use the district’s system to send out automated calls in various languages.” Additionally, the school board has passed “a resolution to prohibit educators from relying on children to translate official or formal discussions with parents,” and the district “included $200,000 in its 2018-19 budget to centralize language services under the communications office.” Furthermore, the district “has been certifying its own bilingual staff in translation,” and educational staff may use “a simplified, common form online to ask the district for help with translations or interpretations for their students’ families.”
Parents are feeling the effects of these new developments. Ms. Mlu who “recently started receiving communications from her sons’ Aurora schools in her native Southeast Asian language,” is one of the parents delighted by these changes:
“’I am so excited,’ Mlu, who has two sons in Aurora schools, said through an interpreter. ‘I am sure it’s going to be better for parents.’”
Multilingual and multicultural outreach is imperative to the healthy development of a school community, especially when part of the community feels underrepresented. As members of TWIN-CS, we understand the importance of including parents in the navigation of their children’s education.
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher