New Yorkers, who come from every corner of the world, speak 180 languages. Not surprisingly, nearly half of public school students speak a language other than English at home.
This makes life difficult for the city’s Department of Education, which, according to federal law and its own regulations, must provide translation and interpretation services to the thousands of parents of those children whose first language is not English. It is not an easy task.
As a just-released report by the New York Immigration Coalition makes clear, even though these services are technically available through the DOE’s Translation and Interpretation Unit, they fall far short of what is needed.
“We release this report with hopes that the DOE will take immediate action to address the serious language access barriers parents face when trying to engage in their children’s school lives. Currently, the DOE has only two people who are responsible for monitoring and supporting more than 1,700 schools on translation and interpretation,” said Steven Choi, the coalition’s executive director.