The positive impact of parental involvement is incalculable and has a reverberating effect that can be felt far beyond the schoolhouse. By helping a child succeed, we help a family accomplish a milestone; a family helps a community be prosperous, and a thriving community helps a nation be a world leader, which in turn can positively impact the global economy and political world stability. With such a global impact, school districts should place the utmost importance on recruiting and integrating different ethnic groups, particularly Hispanic families, which make up the fastest-growing group in the United States.
We generally assume the Hispanic population is a homogeneous group, but it is not.
Hispanics are a mixture of many races from 20 nationalities, and various levels of adaptation to American culture. Spanish is the official standard language and should not be confused with some existing dialects depending on the influences of indigenous roots, and respective geographic regions. There are also Latinos who do not speak Spanish, because they may be descendants of the second or third generation migrants. Many of the families who migrate never have access to formal education in their home countries, and they are not familiar with the education processes. But the general consensus is they want the best for their children, they want to achieve economic well-being and they want to preserve their cultural roots.
According to a survey conducted in 2015 by the association’s Diversity Committee, only 7.27% of PTA leadership was identified as Hispanic.
This percentage is below the equivalent on census data reports. According to demographic data from July 1, 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the Hispanic population is about 56.6 million, which represents 17.6% of the current U.S. population. That figure represents Hispanics as the first minority ethnic group, cataloging the United States as the world’s second-largest Latino country. Furthermore, projections for the 2060 population estimate that Hispanics will constitute 31% of the national population. In fact, such demographic changes should encourage PTAs across the country to extend ongoing efforts to reach more Hispanic families. Based on the PTA organizational structure, the best way to integrate Hispanic audiences is to implement a strategic plan.
The following is a seven-step plan to promote intercultural inclusion through state levels, councils, districts, regions and units:
- Develop partnerships with community-based organizations dedicated to Hispanic Usually, organizations that have a greater impact are those that share the same target audiences, namely educating parents and families. These organizations understand the value of the PTA and support the same goals. Some of the benefits of working with these allies are to share meeting spaces, provide in-kind services such as Spanish translations and create opportunities to deepen relationships.
- Create an atmosphere that allows multicultural inclusion. Create a habit to send communication in both Spanish and English languages. Dynamics that allow the exchange of ideas and opportunities will allow communities to understand the value of PTA. Use a parent or bilingual school staff member to serve as a translator. Make use of the translation equipment. Schedule interleaved meetings, where you switch language spoken as English/Spanish and, Spanish/ English. This practice has proven to be effective.
- Cultivate relationships in each of the school districts, especially the Office of Multiculturalism, English as a Second Language, Dual Language, and/or Title I. Having a presence in each segment of the school district is a must. A direct relationship with the school district office, which directs bilingual resources, will help maximize opportunities for PTA to participate in Title I and bilingual parent conferences. PTA presence is strongly recommended.
- Organize a statewide unit. By organizing a statewide unit there are more opportunities to recruit parents and families at their schools or communities that are not current PTA members. This will allow campaigning by newspapers, radio and television ads in Spanish. It will also enable you to attract organizations and companies seeking to invest in the Hispanic market.
- Assign regional leaders. Assigning regional leaders—preferably bilingual—will help serve the Hispanic community and recruit leaders and make alliances with the offices of the Department of Education to direct resources for parents who do not speak fluent English. It will also allow leaders to act as a liaison between the Hispanic community and PTA.
- Promote Hispanic male leadership. In the Hispanic community, the men strive to be involved in their child’s education. Coordinate efforts to empower male engagement at all levels of PTA leadership. Male engagement is a tool that has demonstrated positive results in areas of security, discipline and bullying.
- Host multicultural events. Hosting events that promote intercultural engagement will allow access to different audiences that usually do not have the opportunity to explore what PTA is all Take advantage of such opportunities as Hispanic Heritage Month, Martin Luther King Day (MLK), Cinco de Mayo, and the International Children’s Day, among other community-oriented events.
Armen Alvarez is the multicultural membership development manager for National PTA.