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The Joys of Training Latino Parents to Advocate for their Children

Adelante Member Public Speaking Picture

Maria del Rosario (Charo) Basterra
Vice President, MAEC
June 29, 2017

In early June, we celebrated the graduation of ten Latino parents who will now serve as trainers of other parents in Arlington, VA. The parents were trained in ¡ADELANTE! Moving Forward! a guide developed by MAEC in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

I trained this enthusiastic group of parents for five weeks as part of a program in partnership with IDRA’s EAC-South. During the sessions, they shared their personal experiences, successes, and challenges. Little by little, a community of learners, myself included, navigated immigrant families’ current fears, their determination to fight for their children, their lack of knowledge of the laws, their rights, their options, and of course their dreams.

 AdelanteIt was extremely rewarding to see how they felt empowered knowing that there are laws that protect their children’s rights to a free education even if they are undocumented. The parents were so encouraged when they found out that they had a right to a qualified interpreter. Understanding the rights of English Learners with special needs also seemed to be information that extended their knowledge and their possibility to support their children and other children in their Latino community.

We enjoyed communicating in Spanish. We laughed at our role playing, we listened to each and every personal experience, we bonded, and we certainly felt part of a group. That is why the graduation day was so special. Each parent was asked to present to the group a section of the units we had worked on. When I saw parents feeling confident and enthusiastic as presenters, I couldn’t help a furtive tear come down my cheek. All the parents received their certificates. As I returned home that night I had so many images in my mind. I thought about what a joy and a privilege it is to work with parents and to do equity work.

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The MAEC blog is designed to engage hearts and minds of school and district leaders across the country to engage in issues that you have identified as being essential in education. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

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