Supporting Families and Educators Through Language Justice in DPS

Language justice is defined as a commitment to ensuring all voices are heard and understood in the process of community engagement. It is a practice to create inclusive and equitable spaces in schools so that families, students, and staff can participate in the language they are most comfortable with. 

Our Language Justice work in DPS has centered around improving the way that schools in Denver engage with families so that everyone –no matter their native language—can support their child’s education by engaging with their child’s school and teacher. DPS families speak over 160 different languages.  Parents and caregivers are critical partners in a student’s education, so ensuring that educators can share information and engage with families is the most important way for that partnership to happen.

The DPS board has called out Language Justice in one of their “ENDS policies” (ENDS 1, passed by the board May 18, 2023) which is how they outline a long-term goal. After the board sets a goal, they name specifics around how they want the superintendent to achieve that goal in an “executive limitation” which would also need to be passed by the board.

While we cannot say how the district and new board will move forward with their long-term goals, we plan to continue to uplift the importance of partnering with families. To be very specific, we would like to see the district address their commitment to the practice of Language Justice by providing a training for all DPS teachers and administrators, before school starts next year, about how to access interpretation and translation services. According to DPS’s website, they provide translation (written communication) and interpretation (spoken communication) services in over 160 languages. However, we know from the community that many schools are not using these services consistently or even aware they exist.

Empowering educators with the tools to build strong and successful partnerships with parents and caregivers will lead to improved student outcomes, which should be a goal we are all working to reach. 

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