Eighty percent of immigrant parents surveyed indicated that they would like to be more involved in their children's schools. However, immigrant parents are often under-utilized as critical resources in their school communities. In New York City, where more than 60% of students are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, schools cannot afford to allow immigrant families to remain alienated. Schools need to determine what keeps immigrant parents away and address these hurdles proactively.
In this paper, we offer a comprehensive picture of what hinders immigrant parent participation in the New York City public schools and what can be done to make schools more inclusive of immigrant parents so that they can be active partners in their children's education. We asked 82 immigrant parents and representatives from ten community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with immigrant parents across the City's diverse communities to tell us about their experiences in the schools and what could be done to improve those experiences. Their stories and recommendations are the heart of this paper. We also identified a number of promising practices in New York City and other cities around the country and provide a number of concrete steps the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and individual schools can take to build true partnerships with immigrant families.