A lack of
information has caused Woodland students to be placed in the
wrong classes, stifling their educational development. It has
also impeded the ability of some to attend college.
As part of a
new program in Woodland, however, parents are learning how to
avoid these academic pitfalls and become advocates for their
children in the school system.
Education Empowerment Project provides educational information
for parents, students and teachers.
focuses on improving academic achievement of students learning
English as a second language and migrants, the program is
tailored for anyone who wants to become more involved with the
education of their children, according to the program's
organizer, Attorney Rogelio Villagrana.
program is about) increasing the number of students who have the
choice to go to college," he said. "It's all about choice."
component of the project is the Family Education Forums. The
informational meetings focus on a wide array of issues,
including access to higher education, high school graduation
requirements and the rights of parents and students.
topics are really determined by what parents want to learn, he
educational forums were scheduled for this year, and Villagrana
said he hopes to double that number for next year.
which began in 2002, also provides legal services for families
that qualify. As part of those services, Villagrana works with
administrators, teachers, parents and students to make sure due
process and administrative proceedings do not violate the law.
those issues include gang profiling, expulsion rates, dropout
rates and ensuring students are not wrongfully denied bilingual
project is intended to teach parents how to solve their problems
- not solve problems for them, Villagrana said.
"We never do
something for someone that they can do themselves," he said.
"It's about empowering."
So far at
least 35 families have received legal services from the project.
But that number will increase as more people become aware of the
project, he said.
find out such a service is available, they start using it,"
serves children in grades K through 12. Initially, the project
was intended to serve all of Yolo County. "But now we focus on
Woodland because so many things are going on here," he said.
said he also works with school committees and local nonprofit
organizations involved with similar issues. In particular,
English Learner Advisory Committees (at various school sites),
the Sacramento Valley Organizing Community and the University of
California at Davis - all of which have provided additional
opportunities for the project to reach out into Yolo County
began after Villagrana gathered research from the community to
figure out what educational information people wanted to learn.
In 2003 the project started and services became available, he
was initially on parents, but we realized teachers were lacking
information," Villagrana said.
everyone involved in a child's education about their rights is a
necessary step to increasing academic achievement, Villagrana
was launched by the Legal Services of Northern California.
Funding was provided by AT&T and Equal Justice Works. To find
out about the educational forums or legal services provided
contact Villagrana at 662-1065.
- Scott Den
Herder can be reached at 406-6232 or