[EDLING:210] Schools Told Translators Are Needed for Parents
Francis M Hult
fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Tue May 25 17:57:12 UTC 2004
>>From the NYTimes, May 25, 2004
(Posted on the lg-policy list)
> Schools Told Translators Are Needed for Parents
> By CLAIRE HOFFMAN
> A coalition of advocacy groups charged yesterday that parent coordinators
> in New York City schools do not have enough translators to help the large
> number of parents who do not speak English.
> The coalition called for the Department of Education to provide a more
> centralized system of translation services to improve the parent
> coordinator program, which was started last year as a centerpiece of Mayor
> Michael R. Bloomberg's sweeping changes in the educational system. A
> spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the department was trying
> to hire someone to create and run an expanded translation system.
> The criticisms came from Advocates for Children, the New York Immigration
> Coalition and seven other nonprofit groups that surveyed 111 of the school
> system's 1,200 parent coordinators. While 66 percent of those surveyed
> said they were bilingual, three-quarters said that more than one language
> other than English was spoken in their school. Eight of 10 said that they
> had to improvise to communicate with parents, often asking other bilingual
> staff members to act as interpreters.
> "Parent coordinators are meant to be a bridge between the school and the
> parents," said Jill Chaifetz, executive director of Advocates for Children
> and one of the report's authors. "If you have a fundamental breakdown
> where you literally can't speak to each other, there is a real problem."
> Margie Feinberg, a Department of Education spokeswoman, said the
> department was seeking to fill a new position called the director of
> translation and interpretation services.
> The department said a centralized translation unit is to begin operation
> in September. The unit would expand the current translation of school
> documents and work with parent coordinators on interpretation issues.
> The department currently translates important parent documents into the
> eight most commonly spoken non-English languages, which account for about
> 95 percent of all the non-English speaking families with children in
> public schools. Those are Spanish, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Bengali,
> Russian, Arabic, Urdu and Korean.
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