Latino Parental Involvement – Si, por supuesto!

By Victor Chacón - 09.03.2009

For educators, the issue of parental involvement—especially of first generation Latino Hispanic parents—is both layered and thorny. Parents face an array of issues: the mission of the school district, expectations around student performance, assumptions about the role of parents, the importance of standardized testing, the types of curriculum taught, state requirements for high school graduation, and so on. 

So how can teachers help? For starters, teachers can work diligently to develop relationships one family at a time and helping Latino parents learn about the system requirements of their school. 

Relationship building begins with learning about Latino Hispanic history—particularly the ancestry of the family, both student and parent. Many teachers, for example, fail to realize that the protocols and practices of Mexican, Central or South American schools don’t always apply to U.S. schools. Here, parents are free to challenge teachers (respectfully, of course), while in Latin American countries, parents rarely question a teacher’s authority. In the U.S. a parent’s voice constitutes a vital part of a child’s education. While quite often Mexican and other Hispanic teachers (and to a greater degree Hispanic Catholic priests) command status and influence. 

The value of education in the U.S. and South of the Border is also different. Here, education is an access point, a portal to personal success in American life. To be U.S.-educated impacts one’s economic well-being in a positive way. By contrast, an education in Latin American terms provides the student with different rewards: status in community, an extensive network of relationships and professional contacts, and quite often, political prominence.  Read more »