(April 20, 2007) The underlying assumptions we have about our students have a dramatic affect on our ability to teach. The same holds true among adults. Even with the best of intentions, educators struggle to work with families without realizing that their own deficit assumptions are creating the barriers. Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed.,director of the IDRA Texas Parent Information and Resource Center, illustrates the contrast between the valuing and deficit models of thinking and acting, and he provides examples of schools that are valuing families as partners in children’s education. Aurelio is interviewed by Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate.
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Texas IDRA Parent Information and Resource Center – a comprehensive, multicultural and multilingual parent leadership support program for strengthening partnerships between parents and schools for student success, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. http://www.idra.org/Texas_IDRA_PIRC.htm/
02:54 Aurelio offers some initial reflections on in the topic of family involvement in their children's education. He begins in the year 1964, when he started teaching. Aurelio talks about his initial views on both the learner and the learner's parents and how they’ve evolved.
06:00 Aurelio explains that in many schools, the experience of the learner – whether a child or adult – is often still not respected.
07:14 Aurelio mentions attending a recent planning workshop where parents were being spoken about in ways that contradicted IDRA's Parent Leadership Model – (1) parents as teachers of their own children, (2) parents as resources to the school, (3) parents as decision makers, and (4) parents as leaders and trainers.
09:25 Aurelio returns to the assumption he developed when he began teaching– and that he had to overcome – that he was somehow better than his students because he had better command of the English language. He was "wearing the mantle of the institution" and viewing his students and their families by a set of deficit assumptions.
11:13 Aurelio says that schools' activities for students and parents often reflect these deficit assumptions and don't recognize families for the assets and inherent strengths that they have.
13:15 Aurelio talks about a card game that IDRA uses in training sessions to contrast value and deficit assumptions.
13:48 Aurelio says that overcoming these deficit assumptions requires a true "paradigm shift," which does not come quickly or easily. He says that we all have and transmit – often unknowingly – certain prejudices.
15:08 Aurelio talks again about the shift in his own deficit assumptions. He tells a story of overcoming the shame he had for his father, who had immigrated from Mexico.
18:45 Aurelio speaks of the need for developing "valuing assumptions" of students, viewing them not as at-risk learners but rather as potential leaders, tutors, etc.
19:25 Aurelio offers four examples where IDRA's Parent Leadership Model has been used successfully. The first is a case of an interdisciplinary project at a small high school in Houston, where parents now join students as co-presenters for end-of-semester presentations. Parents can present in English or Spanish around a certain theme. Through this model, parents are valued as "intelligent and creative human beings."
21:25 In another success story, Aurelio talks about children serving as a language and technology bridge in teaching their parents how to use computers and the Internet at schools and in community centers.
24:43 In a third example, Aurelio talks about parents and teachers coming together for a conversations and dialogue over supper at schools.
26:06 Finally, Aurelio mentions providing translators for parents at schools hearings on the No Child Left Behind Act.
26:36 Josie asks Aurelio for his final piece of advice for the listeners, his one key message about how to value families in children's education.
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