Quotes from Parents
"We need to be active as parents to make sure our kids get a good education, and support our teachers. We know how to educate our children but we are never asked."
"It’s important for my son to be accepted or he will drop out. He feels different because of race, culture, and language."
Since its inception, OneAmerica has been dedicated to reforming public education to ensure equity and quality for all students, with a focus on improving the educational experiences of immigrant children. Given the growing educational opportunity gap in Washington State, OneAmerica’s members identified education as a top priority for our communities with the belief that race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status should not prevent children from obtaining an exceptional education.
To further our work in the realm of education, OneAmerica partnered with the Road Map Project, a civic initiative aimed at driving major improvements in education results — cradle to college and career — in the low-income communities of South King County. The goal of the Road Map Project is to double the number of students in the region who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020. OneAmerica’s partnership with the Road Map Project is centered on closing the educational achievement gap through increased integration of English language learner (ELL) student and family needs.
OneAmerica is on the sponsors committee that heads up the Road Map project along with The Seattle Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The League of Education Voters, Seattle Community Colleges District, City of Seattle, Puget Sound Educational Service District, Technology Access Foundation and University of Washington.
A majority of immigrant children are placed in an ELL program upon entering the school system, with most reaching English proficiency in three to five years. It is critical these programs (formerly referred to as Transitional Bilingual Instructional Programs, or TBIP) are properly funded by the state and taught by highly-qualified educators using research-based instructional strategies. Schools must also do a better job of being culturally competent in their policies, curriculum, and testing, and provide adequate diversity training for all staff members. Not only do ELL students and their families need in-school support, but it is important for local community organizations to provide out-of school support and help parents understand and navigate the school system in order to be strong advocates for their children’s education.
- OneAmerica commissioned a large-scale report (pdf) collecting the experiences of over 550 immigrant students and families in order to inform and drive the work of the Road Map Project and ELL education improvements. OneAmerica also convened local ELL teachers to gather their perspectives and feedback on best practices in schools as well as gaining input for future policy change.
- OneAmerica leads and staffs the Road Map Project’s ELL work group which is made up of the ELL Program Directors in each of the seven school districts (Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, South Seattle, and Tukwila) in the Road Map Region.
- OneAmerica also brings the voice of immigrants to the table through coalition work around racial equity in early learning and kindergarten readiness, Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) access for underrepresented groups, improving parent engagement, reforming discipline policies and awarding small grants to innovative education projects.
- Other OneAmerica education projects include anti-bullying education and trainings, parent engagement, policy advocacy at the state Legislature, including successfully retaining TBIP program funding, and local advocacy in schools in collaboration with students, parents, and teachers.
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Numbers from the Road Map Region
- The Road Map region is home to almost 20,000 ELL students who speak more than 160 different languages.
- Many of these students are immigrants and refugees, and some are also first-generation Americans.
- Most (69%) of King County’s ELLs reside in South King County and, on average, 17 percent of the students in each Road Map district qualify as ELLs.
- The number of ELLs is highest in kindergarten (37%) and then slowly declines with each grade level.
- Though most ELL students reach English language proficiency in three to five years, those who enter high school with low levels of English proficiency face much greater challenges.