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NYIC, Education Collaborative Testify before City Council on Need to Improve Language Access for Immigrant Parents


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 ext. 235,  Cell Phone: 413-687-5160,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Wednesday, February 25, 2015)

NYIC, Education Collaborative Testify before City Council on Need to Improve Language Access for Immigrant Parents

Today, Kim Sykes, senior manager of education advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition, led dozens of other advocates and members of the Coalition's Education Collaborative to testify about the need for the Department of Education (DOE) to address serious language barriers that make it difficult, often impossible, for parents to engage in their children’s education. Nearly half of all public school students speak a language other than English at home, and more than 180 languages are spoken by families in the NYC school system.

The NYIC called on the DOE to include translation and interpretation staff in superintendent offices to proactively support schools and ensure parents access to quality translation services. The NYIC also applauded Chancellor Fariña’s focus on parent engagement and highlighted the additional funds in the City’s budget as a positive step.

“While parents have a right to translation and interpretation and services are technically available, parents still face serious challenges to accessing them,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Issues range from long wait times and lack of translated report cards, to inappropriate people like children and fellow parents being called on to interpret. We cannot miss the opportunity to address these issues now with the new school support structure.”

Parents and community leaders from the NYIC’s Education Collaborative testified about how these translation barriers have prevented parents from understanding how their children are doing in school and from supporting their success. Key allies also testified about positive steps the DOE has taken to support ELLs as well as opportunities to improve ELL outcomes.

Among key issues highlighted were the need to:

  • Continue expanding bilingual programs from pre-K and beyond, and making them available to diverse language communities
  • Provide additional supports for Students with Interrupted Formal Education
  • Improve schools’ cultural fluency to better engage immigrant students and families
  • Ensure ELLs can access all programs available to students, Career and Technical Education (CTE) and alternative education programs in particular
  • Resolve enrollment challenges ELL families and schools with late-enrolling ELLs face
  • Support City Council’s Resolution 388 supporting New York State’s federal waiver request related to ELLs
  • Monitor how the new evaluation system is impacting teachers of ELLs

To read NYIC’s testimony at City Council today, click HERE.

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