Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nashville public schools name Hispanic liaison

The Nashville City Paper reports in this article that Nashville's public school system has hired a Hispanic family outreach coordinator. His name is Ruben DePena, and his title is Language Translation Coordinator, but he says, "It's more than a language issue."

"DePena also sees himself as a liaison Nashville's Hispanic community can trust and approach with concerns."

"He is living up to that role by being present at community meetings to answer questions from Spanish-speaking families, according to Metro Foreign Language Coordinator Beckie Gibson."

The article cites some interesting statistics:

Number of languages spoken by Metro students: 75

Number of translation paraprofessionals employed by Metro for parents, staff and students: 29

Hispanic students as a percentage of the total Metro student population: 11%

Hispanic English language learners ("ELL") as a percentage of the total Metro ELL population: 78%

Hispanic student graduation rate: 40% (lowest in Metro)

Achievement gap between white and Hispanic elementary students in math and language arts: over 10%

"'If we get the parents and the community as a whole to work in unison, I believe we will see better results,' DePena said. 'I would like our students to be able to bridge the achievement gap to unprecedented levels.'"

update: Metro is also producing a new Spanish-language TV spot called "Metro Minutes", according to this article in the Tennessean. “These public service announcements address a range of topics to help parents learn about our schools and the programs (and) services we provide," said DePena.

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