Goals & Activities

The Louisiana Language Access Coalition Education Sub-Committee is dedicated to issues of access and equity in education for the Limited English Proficient (LEP) population of New Orleans. Currently our members are engaged in a fact-finding mission to assess needs of the increasing LEP population, with the ultimate goal of advocating for policy change. Specifically, to ensure that ESL programs in the Greater New Orleans area are compliant with Title VI provisions of 1964 Civil Rights Act by advocating for public education decisions. We also envision LLAC as a resource for the city as it attempts to better understand precisely what those needs are.

In 2011, LLAC’s Education Subcommittee was engaged in data gathering and awareness-raising concerning the needs of LEPs in our community. LLAC partnered with Orleans Public Education Network’s “One Step” campaign to convene a working group of Limited English proficient residents and gather their feedback on educational issues. The campaign also included a best practices panel on ESL that took place in New Orleans East. There, the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA-NO) joined representatives from the State Department of Education and the Louisiana Association of Bilingual Educators in presenting the preliminary results of their Raise Your Hand Campaign survey project. Significant disparities in educational access and outcomes were revealed. Armed with this knowledge, residents were later able to provide recommendations to OPEN that were incorporated into their larger platform and advocacy work.

The Education Subcommittee also worked to improve Language Access at the Recovery School District by advocating for the hire of bilingual staff at the new Parent Centers. Families seeking to navigate the complicated system of “school choice” can now receive assistance in Vietnamese at Sarah T. Reed High School and assistance in Spanish at Cohen High School. LLAC also pressured the RSD to commit to the translation of the forthcoming common application and to provide funding for the Parent’s Guide to New Orleans Public Schools to be translated for the first time in 2012.

LLAC’s Education Subcommittee will continue to strengthen our relationship with the Recovery School District to monitor language access at the Family Information Centers, and ensure that bilingual staff is assuming critical functions to assist limited English proficient families throughout the District. Over the next year, we will also be engaging in conversations with District officials to advocate for quality interpretation and translation service provision and compliance monitoring at Type 5 charter schools. To address language barriers in the application and enrollment processes, LLAC will be continuing our partnership with the New Orleans Parent Organizing Network (NOLAPON). Having successfully advocated for the translation of the Parent’s Guide, we will be working closely with NOLAPON to leverage RSD funds to produce the Guide in Spanish and Vietnamese. LLAC will also take the lead in producing and analyzing data for the Parent’s Guide related to LEP services so that families have relevant information when choosing the best school for their child.

We will also continue outreach and qualitative research to document the experiences of limited-English parents and students, using this information to further hone our advocacy goals and strategies. With regards to state-level legislative advocacy, the Education Subcommittee will use to research and began developing polices that seek to: 1) improve charter school translation and interpretation requirements; 2) improve standards for ESL and language programming; 3) improve monitoring and accountability for the use of Title III categorical funds.

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