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Coalition Joins Chancellor Fariña in Major Announcement of New Translation and Interpretation Support for New York’s Immigrant Parents; Major Victory for Coalition’s Education Advocates


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 413-687-5160,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Monday, January 11, 2016)

Coalition Joins Chancellor Fariña in Major Announcement of New Translation and Interpretation Support for New York’s Immigrant Parents; Major Victory for Coalition’s Education Advocates

NYIC Education Collaborative’s Year-Long Campaign to Ensure Access to Translation Services for Immigrant Parents Leads to an Expansion of Services for Families; Boosts School Systems Ability to Support Immigrant Parents and their Children

(New York, NY) Today, the New York Immigration Coalition’s Education Collaborative joined Chancellor Carmen Fariña to announce new translation and interpretation support for New York’s immigrant parents. The announcement is a major victory for the Coalition’s Education Collaborative, whose year-long “Build the Bridge” campaign has advocated for expanding access to translation and interpretation in New York City’s schools.

The expansion of language access services include:

  • Nine New Language Access Coordinators to be placed at Borough Field Support Centers and Affinity Groups to Hold Schools Accountable for Language Access Services
  • All Schools Will Receive Direct Access to Over-the-Phone-Interpreters, Expanding Services After Business Hours as of December 2015
  • Expansion of Translation and Interpretation Services for Citywide and Community Education Councils

“Today marks a huge victory for New York immigrant communities and for the NYIC’s Education Collaborative, whose members have worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure that access to competent translation services is provided in all New York City public schools,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The announcement that there will be nine new Language Access Coordinators across each Borough Field Support Center in the city is a sign of our success and a testament to what can be achieved when immigrant communities and the DOE work together for a common goal: to ensure the success of immigrant students and their families. These new roles will determine the specific needs of each school and build the necessary supports so that parents receive quality translation and interpretation services. On behalf of the Education Collaborative and the Build the Bridge Campaign, we celebrate this victory and thank the DOE for their continued efforts to improve services for immigrant families all across New York City.”

“New York City represents a wealth of different cultures, languages, traditions, and beliefs. This is an important step forward and I want to thank all of the advocates, community members and elected officials who continue to work closely with us to ensure that there are no language barriers between students and families and a great education,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Increasing translation and interpretation services to families is a top priority, and a critical part of building strong relationships between schools and communities.” 


[Photo left] NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña makes announcement on expansion of translation and interpretation services for immigrant parents at PS/MS126. [Photo right] NYIC executive director Steven Choi makes remarks on behalf of NYIC's Education Collaborative whose year-long "Build the Bridge" campaign advocated for expanded language access. To his left is Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. 


Nearly half of public school students – almost half a million families – speak a language other than English at home. These families face serious challenges engaging in their children’s school lives. While parents have a right to translation and interpretation, there have been major gaps in access for immigrant parents across New York City’s school system. That’s why In February 2015, NYIC’s Education Collaborative launched the “Build the Bridge” campaign calling for increased access to quality translation and interpretation for immigrant parents so that they can truly engage in their children’s education in New York City. In June 2015, the Collaborative released a report with citywide survey results showing major gaps in access to translation and interpretation services for parents in New York City’s schools. The Collaborative continued their advocacy with support from New York City’s elected officials, calling for Language Access Coordinators to be appointed to monitor and boost translation and interpretation services in New York City’s schools.

The 9 Field Language Access Coordinators will ensure that schools are providing parents with limited English proficiency with full access to translation and interpretation services available to them in schools. They will also ensure that every school has a designated and trained Language Access Coordinator (LAC) in place and determine whether schools are addressing the language access needs of their parents. The positions will be based in the seven Borough Field Support Centers (BFSC), with an additional position in the Bronx BFSC and one assigned to the Affinity Groups.

The expansion of services, which also include new direct access to over-the-phone interpreters for schools, available after 5 p.mis a substantial increase in the translation and interpretation supports the DOE provides to Citywide and Community Education Councils.

Chancellor Fariña’s announcement was made at PS/MS 126 in Manhattan, where nearly 80% of the student population speak a language other than English at home.

“Expanding language access services to our families with limited English proficiency means better communication and welcoming families as true partners in the education of our City’s children,” said PS/MS 126 Principal Jacqueline Getz. “Involving families in our PS/MS 126 community is important to the success of our school and I am excited the DOE has continued to make all families – regardless of their native language – a top priority.” 

Etifaq Musleh, a parent affiliated with the Arab American Association of New York, an NYIC member group said, "It is so wonderful to learn that our asks to the Department of Education were granted and that my involvement in this effort has paid off. I am looking forward to the positive changes that the language access coordinators will bring to the table. In particular, I am looking forward to receiving accurate Arabic translations to our homes, which will ensure that we are informed and are able to engage more with our children's education. I am mostly happy for my kids because now I know that there are 9 coordinators who will make sure our needs as immigrant parents are met sufficiently."  

NYIC’s Education Collaborative praised today’s announcement:

"In order for immigrant parents to fully engage and participate in the education of their children, it is absolutely critical that they have access to high-quality interpretation and translation in schools. Immigrant parents have the motivation and willingness to participate and want to support their children academically, but do not always feel informed," said Aracelis Lucero, executive director of MASA. "The NYC Department of Education's addition of nine new Language Access Coordinators is a step toward ensuring full language access in NYC public schools, and ultimately increased parent engagement in schools. We are proud of the brave, resilient immigrant parents who organized to propel this change forward, as well as members of the NYIC Education Collaborative who supported the Build the Bridge Campaign, and we commend the NYC DOE for this promising first step."

"The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) commends Chancellor Fariña for the new support system, including designation of a new Language Access Coordinator, in Borough Field Support Centers,” said Sheelah Feinberg, executive director, Coalition of Asian American Children and Families. “Currently, 1 out of 5 Asian Pacific American (APA) youth is a English Language Learner, and APAs in NYC have the highest rates of being foreign born at 80%. Providing the adequate translation and interpretation resources means more immigrant parents will proactively engage in their children's education.”

"CHCF congratulates Chancellor Fariña and the DOE for the investment made in our non-English speaking families and their students," said Grace Bonilla, President/CEO, Committee for Hispanic Children & Families, Inc. "The new language access coordinators are a strong step forward to create accountability, ensure that our schools are communicating with our non-English speaking parents in the language they understand and fix problems when they arise. We have worked closely with the DOE on this and I commend their efforts to improve language access services across the system." 

Mae Lee, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association said "Our work with Chinese immigrant parents and students has shown us that translation and interpretation needs even within the Chinese community can be be complex, differing from neighborhood to neighborhood, from school to school.  We welcome the NYC Dept. of Education's effort to address this issue with the borough wide language access coordinators."

"Today, immigrant parents in the Arab American community feel reassured that the DOE heard their concerns and are actively enhancing language access to all communities," said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. "The newly appointed language coordinators will play an integral role in helping immigrant parents fulfill their roles as active participants in their children's education and future." 

Key elected officials who have supported the NYIC’s advocacy for increased translation and interpretation for immigrant families made remarks:

 “Communicating with our public school families with limited English proficiency in a timely fashion is crucial and these initiatives are a step forward to ensuring we reach every parent regardless of their native language,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. “I welcome this expansion of services and look forward to working with the Chancellor to ensure this initiative is implemented successfully.”

“We must remove all language barriers between parents, teachers and school staff if our students are to receive the best education possible,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “I commend Chancellor Fariña for this language access service expansion which will ensure that parents with limited English proficiency are able to communicate with school leadership and advocate for their children’s academic well-being. I will continue to work with the DOE and my colleagues in government to make the public school system more accessible to all New York families.”

“It is incredibly important that every part of this administration understands, and is committed to language access for all New Yorkers. This announcement is a real step toward inclusion of parents who may understand language as a barrier, but who are wholly interested in the success of their students. I congratulate Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña, and the entire team for leading on language access in education,” said Carlos Menchaca, NYC Council Immigration Committee Chair.

“Improved language access is something I’ve vigorously fought for in Congress from translating Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) forms into additional languages to creating more dual language programs for City schools,” saidCongresswoman Grace Meng. “This expansion of language access will be a tremendous help to parents who speak limited or no English, and I applaud the Chancellor making these improved services available to parents. New York City – and my district in particular – is the most diverse place in America with people from all around the world speaking many different languages. All parents – regardless of how proficient they are in English – are entitled to the same resources that help their children succeed in school and, more access to interpreters and translations will help accomplish that critical goal. Language barriers must not also cause education barriers!”

“Nearly half of public school families speak a language other than English at home, and for too long these families have been told they don’t have a role to play in their child’s education because of a lack of access to translation and interpretation services,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I welcome this expansion of services and look forward to working with the Chancellor, the Borough Field Support Centers, our Community Education Councils, and parents to ensure this initiative is implemented successfully.” 

“This broad expansion of language access services is the result of our City’s commitment to ensuring that all parents, including those with limited English proficiency, are able to participate in their child’s education,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I thank Chancellor Fariña for recognizing the importance of translation and interpretation services in building bridges between immigrant communities and our City’s schools.”

“Expanding language access and interpreting services is great news for our entire City, because it means a school system that reflects our city’s values,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I thank Chancellor Fariña and the DOE for this step to make schooling more accessible for more families.”

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The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)  is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.


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