parent college
A group of parents listen intently at a Parent College workshop. Photo by Juan Gutierrez.
parent college
A group of parents listen intently at a Parent College workshop. Photo by Juan Gutierrez.

Over 100 parents and students gathered early Saturday morning at Hollenbeck Middle School with the goal of raising graduation rates and getting more kids to college.

The event was the kickoff of “Parent College,” a seven-month series of workshops put on by the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.   The workshops are meant to train parents on how to be involved in their child’s academic success.

Motivational speaker Veronica Garcia delivered the keynote address. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Garcia was her high school valedictorian before going on to study at MIT. Garcia spoke about the struggles she faced and the importance of parental involvement and support in their child’s life. Although she received a scholarship to MIT, her father did not want her to go.

“I hope you learn from my experience and encourage your kids to do better than yourselves,” she told the crowd in Spanish.

After the speaker, parents attended different workshops depending on their child’s academic grade. During one of the workshops, parents learned about alphabetismo, a Spanish term that means having the ability to read and write.

Teachers encouraged parents to participate and provided tips they could apply at home while working with their children.

A mi me han ayudado porque a veces uno cree que mandar al niño a la escuela es la obligación de uno como padre”¦ y no,
la obligación es mandarlo a la escuela y tenerle todo lo adecuado,” Sunrise Middle School parent Georgina Anaya said.

Studies have shown that when parents are actively involved in their child’s education, behavior is better and attendance rates and grades are higher.

“We’ve localized the program and have put a lot of systems into place to make sure that the parents really feel supported, so they can come here and learn,” Parent College program manager Stanley Anjan said.

According to the California Department of Education, only 61.6 percent of L.A. Unified School District’s class of 2011 graduated, compared to California’s 76.3 percent graduation rate.

The workshops, funded in part by AT&T and the Walton Foundation, will be held monthly in the three neighborhoods the Partnership serves: Boyle Heights, Watts and South L.A.

Brizette Castellanos is a Boyle Heights Beat youth reporter and a junior at Roosevelt High School.

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