This story was originally reported in Spanish. All quotes are translations.
In a school district with a prominent Latino composition of 25.8%, the Latino Parent Outreach group aims to provide support to a disproportionate number of struggling students and their parents.
Through sharing experience and working with the district to improve resources, LPO’s parent volunteers hope to make opportunities for higher education more attainable for Latino students.
LPO was founded four years ago with the mission of finding and addressing the causes of widespread low GPAs, low math grades and trends of chronic absence among Latino students.
Although they mostly work in the Mountain View area, they are also willing to help any parents and students in the Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District.
Parents involved meet monthly in what they call “Cafecitos” or “Coffees” to discuss topics of focus and exchange knowledge, ensuring that parents with questions are able to talk with more experienced parents. The group is also able to help parents who have difficulties understanding English.
The organization has hosted events “celebrating the different cultures and countries that make up the Hispanic community,” said Marilu Cuesta, an involved LPO volunteer. These events include major celebrations in Mexican culture like Dia de Los Muertos and La Posada.
“The goal of our group as parents is to open up new opportunities for Latino students and make sure they are going to school feeling happy and comfortable, knowing they can succeed by taking advantage of all the resources that the school and their teachers provide them,” Cuesta said.
In March, the group sent a letter to the district proposing 16 key action items in an effort to counter the continued academic underperformance among Latino students.
“The district has always known about these problems, but in reality, enough has never been done to close this unjust gap,” said Semi Gurbiel, the soon-to-be president of LPO. “We hope that they can help us with the ideas that we have given them, and that they accept and can work with us to increase graduation rates and help set up Latino students who work hard for success.”
These points include ensuring reliable internet service for students at home, clarifying resources to increase Latino student participation in academic programs, and expanding mental health support. The petition also suggests actionable, cost-free plans like instituting tutoring programs between model upper-classmen and newer students to help them achieve their goals.
This 16-point letter is the product of LPO parents’ collaboration and comprehensive analysis of the problems Latino students face. It also suggests resources like scholarships and internships with tech companies that could help combat the disparities.
The district’s most recent renewal of its Local Control Accountability Plan calls to implement better internet access, academic counseling, mental health services and “culturally relevant education,” which all the sentiments of LPO’s 16-point petition.
“We face many challenges, mainly socioeconomic problems and a language barrier,” Gubriel said. “We have parents that have to work two or three jobs and are unable to keep their children on the right academic track like other parents can. And looking at the academic statistics of Latino students in our district is provocative and makes us want to give better opportunities to our children and our community.”