Our Madres Guerreras from Hartford has been working arduously to build the leadership of immigrant parents and push for policies to ensure immigrant students get a quality education. As well as demand that schools and city officials are responsive to families' needs.
Madres Guerreras was created in 2018. Our Madres had weekly meetings where they discussed different topics of power, justice, and parental rights in the school system. They found that there was a common trend that parents had such as not having no one to speak to at the school in their native language, schools not having qualified interpreters, and documents not being translated, making it impossible for parents to be involved in their children's education.
Since then, Madres Guerreras develop their "No more Barriers, Access to Education Now" campaign, asking Connecticut Public Schools to implement, add and improve language services and resources for parents who do not speak English (list of demands here).
In 2019, the Madres Guerreras committee met with different members of the Board of Education, such as Shonte Browdy and Julio Flores, to discuss different interpretation needs. However, there was no commitment to further the interpretation and translation work. But our Madres didn't stop here.
Even though COVID was very challenging for everyone, our Madres focused on researching different Hartford Public Schools and heard testimonies from parents who do not speak English.
Once things started to get "back to normal" again, the committee met with Dr. Negron and Daisy Torres, as well as Yvette Bello, a member of the Board of Education, in 2021, to understand how Hartford Public Schools' translation and interpretation services work, since it was clearly not efficient and efforts were not being enough for our community.
After meeting with various people years prior that was not the correct person, we were able to discover that Nuchette Black Burke, Chief Engagement & Partnerships Officer was in charge of interpretation and translation services. In April, we were able to schedule a meeting with her to begin the conversation on improving language services in Hartford Public Schools for parents who do not speak English. After this meeting we were able to meet with individuals on her team, one of them being the Family Engagement and School Governance Council Manager, Viviana Alvarado, who brought back our survey research to Nuchette Black Burke.
After a long wait, the "No more Barriers, Access to Education Now" campaign was launched in June 2022. Make the Road Connecticut held a rally outside of the Hartford Public Schools' District Building, where we were intercepted by the police, asking us to leave the premises making everyone anxious and concerned about what was gonna happen. But that didn't stop us and our campaign launch was a success.
Three of our moms, Yuri Diaz, Imelda Barajas, and Greysy Perez testified at the Board of Education meeting in October, representing the community and sharing the different challenges they’ve faced when seeking education for their children. After that, Dr. Leslie Torress, Hartford School Superintendent, met with us to discuss the importance of interpretation and committed to working on interpretation issues and technological barriers.
In December 2022, after various meetings with chief Black Burke, our voices were heard and Madres Guerreras won their campaign! 7 demands, such as fixing the Home Language Survey, translating all the documents to Spanish, adding a web page section about services and rights for parents who do not speak English in all Hartford Public Schools, focus groups with parents that do not speak English from the 39 different schools to talk about improving language services, expand resources with language line and add a survey after the call, add more money to the budget for in-person interpretation so parents can request in-person interpretation, and incorporate cultural training to professional development training for staff and training for interpretation for identified personnel will be implemented in Hartford Public Schools and we are hoping to see these changes in the upcoming years. We are not going to stop until our rights are respected!
These powerful leaders will continue to show up to board meetings and join our weekly meetings to advocate for their children's education.
We are so proud of them and grateful to have them as leaders for our community. To find out more about our work, please join us in our weekly meetings or email our community organizer, Megan Scharrer at email@example.com.