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Schools Must Improve Translation Services, Says Immigrant Group

Schools Must Improve Translation Services, Says Immigrant Group
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Half of New York City public school students speak a language other than English at home, but one group says translation services are lacking.

The New York Immigration Coalition has a basic goal for the city’s schools.

“We don’t want parents to be excluded from finding out how their children are doing and supporting their kids because they don’t speak English,” said Kim Sykes, the Coalition’s Senior Manager for Education Advocacy.

She says the Department of Education has translation and interpretation services available, but parents aren’t getting them. Sykes says there are long waits, poor communication, and tons of documents like report cards that never get translated.

Bengali immigrant Shamsun Nahar agreed. “I feel made invisible and very left out of my children’s education because of the lack of translation services,” she said, speaking through an interpreter. She has one child in elementary school and another in middle school, but had trouble getting interpretation services for her native Bangla.

The Department of Education is restructuring the citywide school support system this year. Sykes said it is the perfect opportunity to close the gaps in the system and keep immigrant parents from feeling invisible.

DOE spokesperson Yuridia Peña released a statement saying the Mayor’s preliminary budget has already set aside funds to expand translation and interpretation services throughout the five boroughs.  She said it is part of NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s plan “to include parents as partners in all aspects of their child's education.”