Latino Parents Unite for School Year KickoffLeave a Comment
Latino Parents United in Action kick off the school year with gathering
Parent group working to improve engagement between schools and community
PITTSBURGH, PA – August 20, 2014 – Families from across Pittsburgh gathered today for activities, food and to share resources before the beginning of the school year. While back to school events happen across the city every year, this one is remarkable because for the first time, the audience is primarily Spanish speaking parents and families who have children in Pittsburgh Public Schools.
“We wanted to get families together so we could better know the schools, and for the schools to better know our community,” said one parent. “Better communication about our schools is very important for the Latino community,” she added.
LPUA began as a collaborative project between parents, many from Beechwood elementary in Beechview, the Latino Family Center (a project of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit), Vibrant Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ English as a Second Language Office, and A+ Schools. These groups came together over a year ago in order to “improve the quality of education of the youth and Latino children,” said another parent. After multiple meetings and trainings this past year, LPUA applied and won a grant from A+ Schools’ Parent Action Fund to hold a kickoff to the school year that would serve as a way to introduce themselves to more parents and to help grow their network of Latino families.
In addition to the educational benefits of parental involvement and advocacy for their children, there is the added economic value that additional families in Pittsburgh can bring. “Building and supporting families is critical to the successful integration of newcomers into our community,” said Melanie Harrington, President and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh. “As we support healthy engaged parents and healthy engaged students in our schools, it will ultimately result in the attraction of more Latinos to our region. This is necessary if we want to ensure our region’s long term economic competitiveness and economic viability.”
Parents on hand at the kickoff were able to meet with principals and staff from the schools where their children attend, get information from organizations like A+ Schools, the Education Law Center, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services about parental rights and opportunities to get involved. “We want parents to know that they have a voice and a say” in their child’s education, said Maria.
The group plans to continue to meet throughout the year to provide training, share common concerns, and work together to advocate on behalf of their children in the schools. “We’re looking forward to getting to know more parents and learn more about what we can do for our children,” said Josue, a parent at Beechwood.