Organizational Pointers for Secondary Immersion Parents
The ACIE Newsletter, May 2003, Vol. 6, No. 3
By Martha Johnson, Spanish Immersion Parent, Highland Park Senior High, St. Paul, MN
The following initiatives have worked for parents at Highland Park High School in St. Paul, MN. We offer them here as possible recommendations to further the development of other secondary immersion programs.
Write articles about the immersion program for the school newspaper.
Organize regular meetings to bring parents, staff, and students together. Once a month hold a social event (bowling, hay ride, picnic, or cultural event) and hold a monthly meeting to proactively support the expansion of the program. Build a community and a unified voice. Make an action plan and follow through.
Make phone calls and write letters to district officials asking for their support and thanking them for their efforts. Invite them to come to your meetings.
Teach administrators about the importance of and passion you feel about immersion education. They need to understand the philosophy of immersion education.
Create an email list and/or a local immersion listserv for parents to network and share ideas.
Make sure there are immersion parents (and/or immersion teachers and students) on school Site Councils and other committees. Immersion parents in leadership roles can educate and advocate about immersion issues.
Help organize a field trip for 6th and 8th grade immersion students to visit the schools where the program continues. Together with teachers host an immersion Open House at the senior high and invite students in grades 5-12 to participate. Invite administrators, teachers, parents, and students from the senior high to talk to junior high parents and students. Invite administrators, teachers, parents and students from the junior high to talk to elementary parents and students. These events should be scheduled to happen in the months before the school choice applications are due.
Organize a unified parent group to focus and express concerns. Work with Spanish Immersion teachers to understand what the real issues are. Establish clear goals. Communicate the goals with all immersion parents. Speak up and take action.
Work together with the district/school. Be willing to discuss difficult issues with an open mind. Be ready to listen and learn.
Identify the skills/availability of your parent group. Use those skills strategically to advance the goals. Are there any grant writers, lobbyists, listserv experts or cookie bakers in the group?
It is very helpful if there is a main parent leader who can serve as the contact person, disseminator of information, and catalyst for parent action!