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Gov. Lamont backs proposed bill requiring school translation services for parents

Lesley Cosme Torres
Connecticut Public
Speaking at a meeting with community leaders in Bridgeport, Gov. Ned Lamont said his support of House Bill 6663 is part of his wish for Connecticut to be a place where all people feel welcome, no matter what country they’re from or what language they speak.

Gov. Ned Lamont is supporting a proposed bill in the state legislature that would require Connecticut public schools to provide translation services for parents who don’t speak English as their first language.

The Democratic governor joined parents and community leaders in Bridgeport Monday, Feb. 27, to raise awareness about the proposal.

The English Learner’s Bill of Rights would require schools to provide translation services for parents in the language they’re most comfortable speaking so that they can be fully aware of what their child is being taught in school.

The bill would also include language making it clear that all public school students in Connecticut have a right to a free public school education regardless of their immigration status.

Karen Paredes, who’s originally from Ecuador and has lived in Bridgeport for two years, is a parent leader of Make the Road Connecticut, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Latinos and immigrants be more active in their community. Paredes said that when she goes to her children's school, she often doesn’t know what’s going on with their education. She said they never have a translator.

“I was never told about what kind of bilingual programs my girls were in, much less how they’d evaluate them before transferring them to an English class,” Paredes said.

“Frequently, when I went to parent-teacher conferences to receive grades, I would have to use my cellphone to understand the teachers and what they were saying about their performance.”

It’s unacceptable that children have to be their parents’ interpreters, she added.

Lamont said he wants Connecticut to be a place where all people feel welcome, no matter what country they’re from or what language they speak.

“That starts with education. We’ve got one of the great education systems in the country right here. I got to make sure that each and every one of your kids know they are welcome in our schools,” Lamont said.

Ramon Garcia, a parent advocate of ConnCAN, a Connecticut educational nonprofit, echoed how important the bill is, given that Connecticut has nearly 50,000 English language learners.

“Growing up in Connecticut, I witnessed some of the hardships that many of my fellow students who couldn’t speak English had to endure in school with little to no translators to assist them,” Garcia said. “It became a major obstacle that often led them to fall behind in class and prevented them from participating in school activities.”

“Within our state, the number of families migrating from different parts of the world only continues to grow,” Garcia said. “To deny these kids the opportunity to learn and become educated is truly a disservice.”

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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