My school has a very significant Spanish-speaking population. I don’t know the numbers (our school is so new I’m not sure the demographic data are available anywhere yet) but I do know it’s our majority group. I also know that a parent told me that in Mexico, they were used to having the door slammed in their faces if they tried to do so much as enter the school building. I feel a little bit like my school did the US version of that right back at them today.
We had a parent night this evening, and it was an hour and a half of important information. It was not a meet-and-greet or a how’s-my-kid-doing night… it was a “here are all the things you need to know about the year” night.
And it was not translated. All of our Spanish-speaking parents just got talked at in a language they didn’t understand all night. They missed out on everything important and our school put on a great show of looking like it didn’t care. I felt rude and embarrassed and couldn’t do anything more than translate my own piece. When I asked Spanish-speaking parents how their night was going, they just told me “I’d feel bad if I honestly answered that question.” It was awful.
Thankfully, my principal takes feedback well. I went to him immediately after the event to ask him why he hadn’t had me translate the presentation for him (he didn’t really answer… I think he feels bad putting more work on teachers) and to tell him how upset the parents I talk to in Spanish were. He has already come up with a plan to address communication in the future (HELLO, good leadership) and is writing a letter to parents apologizing for the night and trying to make them feel welcome at the next event. It’s a good step… I hope this is the last time I have to sit through a night as painful as this one.