To overcome language barriers in the classroom and close the gap between parents and their children's schools, SEAMAAC and JUNTOS are using parent-centered tours, workshops, and surveys.
Last December, the local organizations, which work mostly with Latino and Southeast Asian communities, jointly took a group of parents to FACTS Charter in Chinatown. During the visit, five Indonesian and five Latino parents toured classrooms, observed multicultural activities, and spoke with staff.
"The purpose was for parents to see that giving up their language or culture isn't necessary. It is possible to have a multicultural model," said Katie Souder, a JUNTOS intern who has worked on the project.
In April, parents will tour Upper Darby's Beverly Hills Middle School, which serves a large refugee population, or Brooklyn's MS 821 Sunset Park Prep, which serves a large Latino immigrant population.
To bolster their efforts to find inspirational models for more multicultural, immigrant-friendly schools, last summer the groups, through a workshop series, informed parents about their rights around advocating for better schools.
This winter they distributed parent surveys to gather information about the climate at several schools. Parents from 13 public schools and one charter school participated, evaluating the types and effectiveness of language access programs and services currently offered.
JUNTOS Executive Director Zac Steele said early findings show a need for translation, ESOL services, psychological support, multiculturalism awareness, and anti-racism programs.
This spring, parents will present the findings, reflections on the school visits, and recommendations for change to District administrators.