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The Language Of Learning

Parent Academy Program helps Latino parents help their children

The Hartford Courant

January 18, 2011

In his 12 years in the legislature representing Hartford, Art Feltman grew increasingly frustrated. He would help secure tens of millions of dollars to bolster city schools, and see virtually no improvement in test scores.

One day he read a report on literacy initiatives and learned that a program called Even Start, active in Middletown, Windham and other cities here and across the country, was turning out kids who consistently performed at or above grade level. The key was that it educated their parents.

Mr. Feltman left the legislature in 2008 and started a similar program called The Parent Academy in Hartford. The program teaches English and parenting skills to Latino parents so that their children will succeed in school. The premise, backed by considerable research, is that young children raised in a language-rich home with parents as teachers will go on to perform well in school.

The academy's first six-month, twice-a-week series of night classes ended last month, and so far so good. The first cohort of 21 parents are speaking English and reading to their children. This year there will be two programs, a continuing class for the first group and another for a new set of parents. The program makes do on a modest $150,000-a-year budget, which comes entirely from private sources.

Hartford's schools have improved somewhat since Mr. Feltman left the legislature, but they work best when children come ready to learn. That is the parents' responsibility. Giving parents the tools to do their job can only help. For more information, call 860-524-5603x20 or email art@laplp.org.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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