Families & the Community Video

Parent Changemaker: Fighting to Remove Language Barriers for Families

January 18, 2018 3:43

Teresa Garcia was frustrated. Her Spanish was much better than her English, and that hindered her from communicating with her children’s teachers. She was hardly alone. In the Federal Way school district, north of Tacoma, Wash.,18 percent of the 22,500 students are native Spanish speakers. In all, students in the diverse district speak 118 different languages. “I couldn’t support my children in the best way that they deserve because I wasn’t able to speak English. I know that too many families need this information in their home language to support their children,” Garcia explains. Garcia and other parents worked with the district to change how schools communicate with families and to ensure information is translated into a host of languages. She also lobbied the state legislature to increase bilingual education statewide. “The most important advice that I can give to any parent,” Garcia says, “is don’t feel afraid to speak up. Don’t feel afraid to ask about what you need. Don’t feel afraid to go to the school and speak your language.”

Coverage of how parents work with educators, community leaders and policymakers to make informed decisions about their children’s education is supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, at waltonk12.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.


Student Well-Being Video This School Is a Model for Wellness and Student Learning. See Why
The first high school to be WELL Certified at the gold level hopes to serve as inspiration to others.
English-Language Learners Video Witnessing Change in a 'Little Town for Latinos’: An English Learner’s Journey
Born in Russellville, Ala., to immigrant parents from El Salvador, Brian Santos reflects on his journey as an EL student.
Lauren Santucci & Ileana Najarro
Brian Santos, a senior at Russellville High School in Russellville, Ala., stands for a portrait at the school Dec. 9, 2022.
Brian Santos, a senior at Russellville High School in Russellville, Ala., stands for a portrait at the school Dec. 9, 2022.
Tamika Moore for Education Week
Teaching Video Teachers, Try This: Build a Lesson Plan Using ChatGPT
One educator explains how teachers can use ChatGPT to create lesson plans, and offers insight and advice on the process and its pitfalls.
Student Well-Being Video How Districts Can Improve Mental Health Through Building Design
The WELL Building Institute offers ideas for improving student and teacher mental health, including low-cost options like reducing clutter.