Why the need for cultural competency in Parent Engagement?

The need for cultural competency has emerged as a strategy that helps to address the disparity in educational achievement between different racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. K-12 school system. But still, one may wonder why the need for cultural competency in a Parent Engagement program?

The main goal in providing teachers with a cultural competency training is to help teachers understand the Latino community, to shed light on what motivates parents to be involved at school as well as what types of activities are meaningful, and to ultimately minimize the social and cultural barriers in education that are encountered between the academic setting and the Latino community.

The National Center of Cultural Competence at Georgetown University has identified 6 reasons for the need for cultural competence:

1- To respond to current and projected demographic changes in the United States.
2- To eliminate long-standing disparities in the health status of people of diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
3- To improve the quality of services and health outcomes.
4- To meet legislative, regulatory and accreditation mandates.
5- To gain a competitive edge in the market place.
6- To decrease the likelihood of liability/malpractice claims.

Read more from The National Center of Cultural Competence at Georgetown University.

Specifically relating to education, there are socio-cultural barriers to educational access and success. It’s important to understand that barriers often have to do with families’ home culture, language not matching the school system’s culture, and the teacher-student-parent matrix.

It helps teachers to provide them with a framework of cultural competence that addresses these factors, as a way to help them understand the parents and children at their school. Still you might be wondering, why focus on just the Latino population?

The Latino Family Literacy Project™ focuses on English Learners, namely, Spanish-speaking parents. Here are a few facts to know:

• 80% of all English Learners throughout the United States are Spanish-speaking.
• Latinos comprised 56% of the population growth throughout the U.S. and are the fastest growing segment of our population.
• There are more than 50 million Latinos in the United States.
• 1 in every 4 students throughout the country is Latino.
• Latinos comprised 34% of nationwide dropouts, making Latinos the largest dropout group by ethnicity.
• Latinos lead the nation in poverty.

The Latino Family Literacy Project™ provides educational materials that speak to the cultural and linguistic realities of Latinos. We train school leaders, teachers and staff regarding the socio-cultural context of Latino families and the need to learn about cross-cultural interaction, as well as age-specific curricula for Parent Involvement programs. The books used in our programs are culturally engaging and help parents and kids connect to the literature. In addition, the books include vocabulary review so that parents can enhance their own vocabulary in Spanish and English.