July 25, 2023 - A momentous occasion unfolded this past Saturday at the Stamford government center as parents, advocates, and local officials gathered to celebrate the passing of a groundbreaking ELL Bill of Rights. This new legislation will require all public schools in Connecticut to provide increased access to translators and interpreters for students and their families who speak languages other than English.
The atmosphere was filled with hope as parents expressed their gratitude for this law. "Thanks to this legislation, we will finally have information in our own language. We will feel more confident in participating in our children's education," shared Maria Teresa, a POWER Parent leader joined by her daughter, Keren Cortes, a student in Stamford Public Schools. POWER, founded by Building One Community (B1C) in 2015, is a group of dedicated parents advocating for positive change and school initiatives in Stamford, CT. They are currently affiliated with United Parents and Students (UPAS).
In late 2022, four organizations: Make the Road CT, ConnCAN, Center for Children’s Advocacy and POWER-UPAS came together to introduce the ELL Bill of Rights at the CT Assembly. The legislation received overwhelming support from state representatives and governor Ned Lamont, who signed the bill in late June. “We have to recognize and thank Representatives Antonio Felipe and Juan Candelaria who were our champions and the Stamford delegation who met with [the POWER parents] and after hearing our stories, they understood the need for this bill in our community,” expressed parent leader Jenny Canepa.
“Witnessing the incredible strides made by POWER, particularly in its collaboration with United Parents and Students (UPAS), fills us with immense pride. Eliminating language barriers in schools is a crucial move towards achieving equality for every student” said Dr. Anka Badurina, the Executive Director of Building One Community.
Sayda Alverto, a mother in Stamford, is one of many who will benefit from this legislation. Unaware that her son had been enrolled in English as a second language classes until third grade, Sayda only recently discovered this when he entered seventh grade. For many years, she believed her son was receiving additional support to improve his English proficiency, and feels he missed out on participating in extracurricular activities due to the school’s lack of communication regarding his progress. With two younger children, Sayda will now witness the much-needed improvements in communication between schools and families, thanks to the ELL Bill of Rights, HB 6762.
To honor the efforts of the parents who tirelessly advocated for the bill in the CT Assembly, Representatives Matt Blumenthal, Hubert Delany, and Anabel Figueroa joined Stamford's Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamu Lucero. Excited for the positive changes ahead, parents and advocates will soon meet with state and local school officials to discuss the implementation of the ELL Bill of Rights for the upcoming school year.
POWER Parents is a dedicated group of parents and community members committed to advocating for positive change and progressive initiatives in Stamford, CT. Our mission is to create a better future for our children and community by supporting and promoting policies that foster growth, education, and overall well-being. We were founded in 2015 by Building One Community and are currently affiliated with United Parents and Students (“UPAS”). UPAS is a multi-issue organization, comprised of mediating institutions, schools, congregations and community-based groups. UPAS is committed, long-term, to fight against poverty and towards racial, economic, and social justice.
To learn more about POWER and United Parents and Students, please reach out to Ariana Fernandez at 213-544-5678 or [email protected]