I formerly worked in a family literacy program in Newport RI, serving low-income english and spanish speaking families. We offered GED and ESL classes, as well as parenting classes and social services (mostly in a support role, advocating for parents and families and helping connect families with services available in the community).
I loved this job and found it immensely rewarding and exciting to see families moving toward literacy. Many of the parents involved in the program had not been successful in school. It was thrilling to see them advance in attaining their GED or gain new language skills, and especially see them gain confidence in parenting and feel comfortable enough in their child's classroom to get involved in their child's education. Through our program, parents found value in setting a routine for their children, learned reasonable expectations for their kid's behavior, and found ways to interact with their kids in ways that were more positive and language rich instead of punitive and focused on what the child should not be doing.
These families and children's lives were enriched from this program, and while their test scores may not have risen meteorically, these children will live more safe and full lives. Success in a program like this cannot be measured by the OAKS test or other standardized methods. If your focus is only on the test, there are probably better ways to raise that score. However, if you are interested in creating healthier students who arrive at school ready to learn, then you need to support families and help create homes that have stability. Programs such as the one in Harlem will do just that. I hope Obama pursues more of programs such as this and less Race to the Top programs.
posted 2 years, 8 months ago
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