Question: Multi-cultural Population and Parental Involvement!

Good evening! My school is 60-70% Latino and we have very low participation and as a new PTO President, I am desperate to change that. I dont know if it's cultural, language barrier, etc. But I want to increase parental involvement even by baby steps! Does anyone else have this experience and/or ways or suggestions it has worked for your school?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
A good way to start is to recruit someone from the Hispanic community to be a champion for the PTO and help you in your outreach efforts. If that one person can recruit two more, then those two recruit two more, that's how involvement grows. To do that you need to make a serious effort to make the PTO welcoming to Hispanic parents. That may mean translating your materials into Spanish, having a Spanish speaker welcome Hispanic parents at events and meetings, and maybe even having a translator at meetings. Our Multicultural PTOs page has links to articles and tools that may help. Also, two pieces of research I should mention -- research shows that parents of all cultures and economic circumstances want to get involved in their children's education and help them do better in school. The key is to identify and remove the barriers that are keeping them from doing that. Second, people are much more likely to join a group when they know someone who is already involved. That's why recruiting that first person is important. Good luck!

Community Advice

lengelkins writes:
Well...thanks Craig. I will say that our school is already doing the translating of all materials. All printed materials has English on one side and Spanish on the other side. All meetings/programs/events are also conducted bilingually....where all is translated. And yes, I do agree and that is my struggle....that we have to have Hispanic representation on our Board....which will make all the difference in the world. Our VP spot is still open, so that is what my goal is in filling that spot. I was hoping there was something I was missing that someone could fill me in on....some magical something.....LOL! But at least I know I am going in the right direction! Thanks for the input!

Community Advice

parent73 writes:
I posted this on the FB wall, but I'll get it on here too. Well, I might be the odd man out, but I've come to realize that in the end, if we're doing this for the kids, then let's make it about them. Look at what you're offering (programs, events, activites, etc.) and figure out what you NEED in your community. It could be that many families don't feel the need to be a part of various things because they see them as non-essential. Maybe by honing in on just the things the kids need, you increase the number of people "sold out" to what you're doing. Sometimes more is just more ... and people see that as a bother. Regardless of what community you're serving. And as someone who grew up in a Latino household, there were very few things that my parents felt were necessary to my academic success. They wanted me focused on the 3 R's and all the rest was just extra. Maybe finding out what fuels these families and then using that to create a community that serves them is your best bet to getting them involved.

Community Advice

parent73 writes:
I also want to make one more point about wanting to make sure the Latino community is represented in the Board, etc. I don't know that this will make a difference in the recruiting of volunteers. Many cultural groups aren't only looking for someone who looks like them. They are looking for people who think like them and are willing to listen. The color of the skin doesn't impact that. If you can get someone in a leadership position from that community, great! If not, don't feel like you've lost any footing. In the end, everyone just wants to know that they are being heard and that their time and resources are valued. (On a side note: for ME, I would be somewhat offended if I knew that my parent group was, first and foremost, coming to me because I am a Latina. I don't think this is necessarily what you are doing, but it sounds like it could be headed down that particular path. I would just beg you to think that whole idea through a bit more. "Hispanic representation' does not only equal a Hispanic on the board.)

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