New Arizona Program To Teach Parents How To Support Students' Education During COVID-19 And Beyond
The nonprofit Arizona for Latino Leaders In Education, or ALL in Education, has launched a program that gives parents tools to support their children’s education during distance learning and beyond.
The organization’s executive director, Stephanie Parra, said the idea for the new Parent Educator Academy was born from parents’ frustration with distance learning.
"We want parents to feel equipped to be kind of like that at-home navigator with their student so we definitely want to meet the educational needs of our kids, of the students and the families that we are serving," she said.
That can mean anything from teaching them how to navigate technology to understanding the American and Arizona education system, Parra said.
The program currently has 50 participants representing schools across the state. One of the participants and mother of a San Luis High School junior, Yesenia Celaya, is hoping to learn about how to get financial aid for college to support her son's educational goals.
“I have some knowledge that I hear from a neighbor or my son brings home but I hope this program clears things up for me," Celaya said.
Another participant, LaKisha Tucker is a parent of a freshman at Cesar Chavez High School. Their district, Phoenix Union, has conducted distance learning since the pandemic began. Tucker says it's been a difficult time for her and her son, but the new program has made her feel less alone in this struggle.
“It’s been a big change for just in how we are structuring his hours, keeping him more focused and you know assisting him and helping him," she said.
Tucker is also hoping to use the program to build relationships, and ultimately serve as a volunteer for the district, or join a parent group.
In addition, Parra said the academy and its partners, Chicanos Por La Causa and The New Teacher Project, are looking to help parents who are interested gain employment at schools as instructional assistants. As she thinks about the future, Parra is hoping that program can grow enough to become a pipeline into the teaching profession.
"For us this is important because representation in the classrooms’ matters especially for communities of color," she said.
This would be significant in Arizona where the student population is 46% Latino, while the teaching workforce is about 15% Latino, Parra said citing a 2020 report by her organization.