Needs to be Top Priority

Needs to be Top Priority

Minority Student Achievement Getting Better

Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee members presented their annual report to Loudoun County School Board members, Tuesday, Oct. 25. Progress has been made, but there is still work to be done, they said.

Committee co-chairman Herb Bryan outlined the current initiatives, adopted by the School Board in 2002. These initiatives include transition teams for minority students, culture competency training for faculty and staff and increasing parent participation.

THE TRANSITION from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school can be difficult for students, especially for minority students whose first language is not English.

"All schools in the county implemented transition teams," Bryan said.

The committee is investigating the academic performance of students affected by this initiative.

The Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee members "hear reports from parents about incidents involving their children and Loudoun County personnel that have cultural competency undertones," Bryan said. "Most recently a parent reported that her child along with several other minority children, who were African-American, had been singled out by a teacher for having taken a geometry course over the summer and then were given the impression their skills were not up to par."

The committee wants to provide cultural competency training for all faculty and staff, "to ensure cultural competency," Bryan said. "Our committee believes diversity training should be available to all schools."

THE COMMITTEE REPORTED minority parents have a number of questions and concerns. In an effort to provide information to the minority community, the committee is working hard to increase parent participation, especially among the Latin community. Monthly meetings are held at Park View High School to reach a diverse population of parents, answer questions and listen to concerns, said committee member Guillermo Meneses.

"The committee is committed to the Latin community," Meneses said. Parent resources are available in Spanish and English. "This initiative is already yielding positive results," Meneses said. "No matter what language, parents are engaged in our shared objectives of helping our children succeed."

The committee believes elected officials need to be aggressive, in order to achieve set goals for minority students.

"Accountability starts at the top," Meneses said. He encouraged the School Board to incorporate minority student achievement goals into their school improvement plans and for Superintendent Edgar Hatrick to be "a leading champion of the concern."

SCHOOL BOARD Chairman John Andrews (Potomac) said he appreciated the "prods" by the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee.

"It is never good to stand still and we should always move forward," he said.

School Board member Priscilla Godfrey (Blue Ridge) agreed. "Parents of minority students, Hispanic, African-American, from whatever corner of the globe, need a place to come and speak from their heart and the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee provides that for them," she said. "They have done a remarkable job. …They have prodded us."