Schools Reach Parents With Spanish Radio Broadcasts

Several years ago, Denver Public Schools officials recognized the enormous popularity of Spanish-language radio among Hispanic parents and turned that knowledge into a successful new vehicle for community outreach.

Under the leadership of the then-director of multicultural outreach Alex Sanchez, the district launched the Educa Radio broadcast on local radio stations. The stations already had a built in loyal audience of Spanish-language music fans. Sanchez told The Denver Post that immigrant parents often listed to radio while at work, whether it be in a restaurant or  on a construction site.

“We are getting information to parents in a medium they are comfortable with,” he told the newspaper.

Educa Radio broadcasts have tackled thorny topics including high teen pregnancy rates among Latinas, bilingualism,  discipline,  bullying of gays and lesbian students and how to apply for federal financial aid. A weekly segment profiles schools doing particularly well with Hispanic students.

The radio programs also increased Hispanic parent involvement. The web site Take Part reports that after the radio station launched, the district saw an increase in parent calls to the district and attendance at school district-related events promoted on the radio.

The radio station broadcasts three hourly shows a week.  The initiative also has a web site with blog posts, podcasts and internet broadcasts. The show has been so successful that it has attracted Colorado state senators as guests.

The broadcast’s goals include informing parents about their rights and responsibilities, teaching them how to support their children in the home and at school, encourage involvement in parent meetings and familiarizing themselves with the Denver Public Schools.

The original host of the  Denver program, Alex Sanchez,  has now created a similar Sunday-morning program in the Austin Independent School District in Texas, known as Educa Austin. Sanchez is a Mexican immigrant, and is the district’s director of public relations and multicultural outreach.

“What I recognize is that if parents don’t participate in the education system in this country, it’s not because they don’t care about their kids, it’s because they don’t know how,” he told Take Part. “Active parents can demand services and programs that will help their kids graduate from high school on time, go to college, and have a better shot at the American dream. And who doesn’t want that?”

Related Links:

– “Parental Involvement: Radio Keeps Latino Parents in Tune With Their Kids’ Education,” Take Part.

– Educa Radio (Una iniciativa de las Escuelas Publicas de Denver)

– Radio helps Latinos, DPS stay tuned in to each other. The Denver Post.

– AISD to pilot Spanish radio program on weekend mornings, Austin American Statesman.

– Educa Austin

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Latino Group Reaches Agreement with Denver Schools, Police

A Latino advocacy group has reached an agreement with the Denver Public Schools and Denver Police Department that limits the role of scope of police in schools primarily to criminal threats to school safety–and not routine discipline matters.

Padres & Jovenes Unidos (Parents & Youth United) has worked for several years to combat what it refers to as the school-to-prison pipeline, which it partially blames on harsh discipline and zero tolerance policies.

The intergovernmental agreement seeks to define the role of police in schools, provide due process protections to students and families, requires input on the policing process, and mandates training prior to police being assigned to schools, Ricardo Martinez, the group’s leader, wrote in a commentary for The Denver Post.

He wrote that instead of the police ticketing or arresting students for non-criminal incidents such as talking back to teachers or swearing, the students should be referred to school administrators for disciplinary action.

The agreement seeks to solve discipline problems without using criminal punishment.

The Denver Post reports that Denver Police Chief Robert White said that “our job is to deal with serious violations of the law, and that’s what we’re going to do.” There are 15 Denver police officers working in 16 schools currently.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg told the newspaper that he expects the agreement to result in lower numbers of suspensions, expulsions and referrals to law enforcement.

The timing of the agreement is interesting, since it seems to go against the increased national discussion about the need for greater police presence on campus following the Sandy Hook Elementary incident.

Related Links:

– “Agreement keeps Denver police out of most school discipline problems,” The Denver Post.

– “As School-To-Prison Pipeline Continues to Swallow Students, Denver Works to Stem Flow,” The Huffington Post. 

– “Guest Commentary: Limiting the role of police in our schools,” The Denver Post. 

– Padres & Jovenes Unidos (Parents & Youth United)

Denver Schools Reach Agreement on ELLs

Denver Public Schools officials have hammered out a  modified consent decree that makes changes to how the school district’s more than 36,000 English language learners are taught.

The Denver Post reports that the agreement with the Congress of Hispanic Educators includes new changes regarding teaching training, student exit procedures and parent communication. It also orders that a study of the effectiveness of the program for teaching ELLs be completed by 2015.

The decree regarding instruction of ELLs exists because of a desegregation suit first filed in 1974, which eventually led to an agreement 10 years later on ELLs. The district has used transitional bilingual education to teach students.

EFE also reports that the new agreement will require all DPS schools to offer bilingual classes and creates a system to track student progress.

“Today we’re standing on the shoulders of people who fought a long time to guarantee students’ rights,” Kathy Escamilla, education professor at the University of Colorado, told EFE. “But unfortunately, the fight continues.”

Related Links:

“DPS, plaintiffs now speak same language on modified consent decree.” The Denver Post. 

“Agreement on bilingual education in Denver.” Fox News Latino/EFE.