Parents Group Celebrates Schools Translation Progress

“So when are you going to run to be the first female president of the United States!?”

Such exclamations of praise from an adoring audience greeted Nilda Aponte (left in above photo) as she was medallioned for helping to lead Teach Our Children’s recent campaign to improve translation services available in the public schools.

Aponte was one of eight parent leaders celebrated on Saturday afternoon as the parent advocacy group gathered 40 strong at the First Presbyterian Church on Whitney Avenue.

The group also marked the success of its new partnership with the Board of Education in improving translation services for Spanish-speaking parents.

“Before I got involved with TOC, I was a very shy person,” Aponte said.

That shyness, however, has matured into an effective, quiet charisma that was cited by fellow TOC leader Alberto Nieves. He praised Aponte as the “mother of the translation campaign.”

“She had a vision to have translation in the schools so the Hispanic voice can be heard,” he said.
In past years TOC has been at loggerheads with the Board of Ed on issues such as translation, suspensions, and bullying.

After a seeming impasse, six months ago TOC and the board submitted to institutional marriage counseling by Community Mediation.

The results have been real. Aponte said communication has improved greatly and a sense of partnership around the translation issue has supplanted sometimes acrimonious confrontation.

TOC Director Camelle Scott (at right in top photo) itemized the achievements since November 2009:

• The New Haven Public Schools website was translated into 35 languages including Spanish.

  • Signs are now posted in all schools in English and Spanish letting parents know where to find a translator.
  • Title I funds have been set aside to provide translation service at parent events.
  • Report cards, suspension notices, field trip forms, and all documents from the central office are now available in Spanish.
  • All documents concerning the School Reform Initiative are also in Spanish.

Aponte said that the mediation has been so successful, it is no longer needed.

“We want to continue the partnership with the board,” she said.

An immediate task is bringing more information about the school reforms to the Spanish-speaking parents. “We’ve been attending the meetings, but there are a lot of parents who still don’t know,” Aponte said.

Scott said that the parent leaders will decide at an upcoming meeting what issues to take up next.. Nieves added that the city’s nascent school reform campaign requires active parent involvement in order to succeed.

Saturday was a time for appreciating the moment. In addition to Aponte, the other parent leaders cited included: Alberto Nieves, Anna Lucero, Cynthia Shannon, Lorena Torres, Claudia Bosch, Sylvia Navarro, and Joseph Vidro.

Scott said that TOC has a core of

30 active members and a larger circle of 250 involved parents.

Joseph Vidro (back row left in photo, in yellow), who had nominated Aponte to run for president of the United States, said to her, “You’ve got my vote.”

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