Students participating in the Family Literacy Program have already begun to show improvement at reaching benchmarks in elementary level subjects, according to Pueblo City Schools District 60.
The program was started in April, when Toyota began funding it with a three year grant. Now in its second year, the school district is pleased to see how the students and their parents are responding to the program.
Parents who are seeking a GED or English is their second language, spend about 10 hours in the classroom each week. A portion of that is with their own child, side by side learning. Many parents come from foreign countries where the educational system is either inferior or drastically different. Many find it difficult to understand the American system and school culture.
The program is helping to bridge the cultural and communication gap, by getting parents involved in their student’s school life. So far, it's created benefits both for the child and the parent.
Every parent we talked to indicated their number one desire was to be able to help their child when they have questions, but often they could not because they didn't understand the English language. Now, as they learn more English, they find their child is helping them as much as they help the child, and they learn together.
Many parents who previously had no idea of how far their child's potential would take them, now say they are confident their child will go to college.
In order to preserve the heritage and cultural value of their native languages, the program puts an emphasis on being bi-lingual. And in a way, the program through the GED and college connections it offers is opening doors that could eventually lead many of these families out of poverty.
The program recently expanded from the original three schools, Baca, Bradford, and Irving Elementary, to include a fourth school, Spann Elementary. All four schools have a large population of non- or limited-English speaking families.
The program will be funded by Toyota for another year. After that, D-60 will have to find grants to keep the program running.