Vail Valley Hispanic parents ask for college help
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-Spanish-speaking parents of students in Vail Valley, Colorado schools are lost when it comes to telling their children how to get into college, said parents who spoke to the school board at its meeting Wednesday.
The school board invited parents to its meeting to hear their thoughts and opinions about the way the district runs things. They held an hour meeting for English-speaking parents, and then another hour meeting for Spanish-speaking parents. The board members asked parents several questions that will help set priorities for the next school year, said Superintendent Sandra Smyser.
From too much standardized testing to not enough attention for gifted and talented students to not enough basic education about current events and world geography, the school board listened to what parents think needs improvement within the local school system.
Vicky Reyes, a Hispanic parent, has a daughter at Battle Mountain High School. She wants her daughter to go to college and said when she started asking around about how to get scholarships and financial aid, she got a lot of run-around before she found any answers.
The meetings for parents about college preparations are done in English, but it’s the Spanish-speaking parents who need the most guidance, she said.
“We need to educate parents on how you can get your children a better future,” she said.
The college planning is especially frustrating because most Hispanic parents didn’t go to college and don’t know how to prepare their children for it, Reyes said.
It’s frustrating for Reyes because she has tried to get Hispanic parents together for meetings.
Norma Delgado, a Hispanic parent of two Edwards Elementary students, said Hispanic parents are either working all the time and can’t go, or they just assume their children will get the same education whether they go to meetings or not, said
Delgado’s children are in kindergarten and fifth grade and she hopes they’ll have some answers by the time they’re in high school. She wants her children to be successful, and the schools should be able to get them on the right track to go to college, she said.
When Reyes meets other Hispanic students in the county, she said most of them don’t dream beyond high school. “It’s really sad to go to high school and see these kids living through high school thinking ‘this is the last step in my education,'” Reyes said.
The mothers told the school board that middle school would be the perfect time to start working with Hispanic parents about the college application, scholarship and financial planning process.
The English-speaking parents had similar concerns about getting their children adequately ready for college, and they also agreed that teaching the children multiple languages as early as elementary school would help them become more competitive with Asians and Indians in a “global market.”
“In order for kids to become competitive throughout the world, we need the language piece,” said Adele Wilson, a Red Hill Elementary parent. “We need to focus on some other languages (besides Spanish), too.”
Kimberly Rowland, a Battle Mountain High School parent and the Vail Valley Foundation’s director of education, said she’s seen way too many students who need help in writing. She said scholarship applications coming in show students are having trouble organizing their thoughts clearly and they’re not proofreading their work.
“I would say we really need to evaluate our English programs (in local schools),” she said.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org