Sunday, March 23, 2014

Federal complaint filed on behalf of parents who speak Spanish and Vietnamese | The Lens

Federal complaint filed on behalf of parents who speak Spanish and Vietnamese | The Lens:



Federal complaint filed on behalf of parents who speak Spanish and Vietnamese

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Using an app that scans an English text and translates it into Spanish, Ramon Leon helps his son with homework at the VAYLA office in eastern New Orleans.
Matthew Hinton/The Advocate
Using an app that scans an English text and translates it into Spanish, Ramon Leon helps his son with homework at the VAYLA office in eastern New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS — Every school night, Ramon Leon helps his older son  with his homework. Typically, they speed through the math worksheets. Word problems take longer because Leon’s son, a third grader at a New Orleans charter school, has to translate them into Spanish for his father, who speaks little English. Grammar worksheets sometimes stump them both. (Leon does not want the school’s name published out of respect for his son’s teachers.)
Leon, who moved to New Orleans from Mexico with two sons just before the start of the school year, is an involved parent: He attends all report-card conferences — using his third grader as an interpreter. On the nights when he can’t help his older son figure out an assignment, he won’t sign the homework form. Instead, he writes “No entiendo” — Spanish for “I don’t understand.”
Usually, the teacher responds with a note to him in English. And the confusion continues.
The Leon family’s dilemma is typical of the challenges facing New Orleans families who speak Spanish and Vietnamese. Households where the two languages are spoken make up the overwhelming majority of the city’s non-English-speakers; and most of their children attend a decentralized school system dominated by independently operated charter schools.
Interviews with a dozen such families with children in a range of schools found that many of the schools fail to translate letters, school calendars, or even report cards. Typically, all signs posted in the school’s office are written in English. Automated phone 

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