Amplifying Family and Community Engagement

Huge thanks to all who attended SESEC’s general meeting last week and especially those who joined our discussion arIMAG1353ound Family Engagement. We agreed that family engagement is a critical component of successful outcomes for students, especially students of Color (non-white) and recent immigrant families. However, family engagement manifests differently for different communities and in Southeast Seattle, where the diversity of residents is extensive and is derived from Religion, National Origin, Citizenship, Gender, Sexual Orientation among others. We agreed that successful family engagement allows for increased access points to better education, improved socio-emotional outcomes as well as healthier students, staff and community.

If you would like to join in this discussion, please contact Anita!

Disaggregated Data:

With such a broad spectrum of diversity, we need data to help us be more intentional in iIMAG1352dentifying and supporting the populations that need it and utilize methods that will be most effective. Data is beneficial when families can access it, understand it and use it to improve outcomes for their children. Disaggregated data has both pros and cons.

  • Helps to identify more specific needs of underserved, underrepresented communities.
  • Solutions are targeted and focused
  • Promotes visibility for populations that can be invisible


  • Populations may be negatively targeted
  • Low expectations may be normalized for students in target populations
  • Data can impede recognition of the value of individuals and populations by heavy focus on numbers.

Language Barriers to Access:

Seattle Public Schools should have a database of individuals who can interpret or translate  all  languages represented in the district. Many communities speak a language for which there is no interpretation because there are “not enough” speakers of that language.  However, person to person transfers of information are important and highly effective for communities facing language barriers.

Robocalls: Robocalls can be more effective when a human voice versus software-based voice is utilized.

Interpreters: Interpreters/Translators must be both bicultural and bi lingual. It is important to know how to translate jargon and acronyms so that the full effect of the message is received.

Barriers specific to ethnic groups

Historical trauma has a great impact on engagement in school building by African American and Native American families. Ancestral traumas of Genocide and Enslavement, forced migration to boarding schools and Jim Crow all serve as bases which impact purposeful engagement in the schools.

Possible Approaches

  • Frame the outcome from cultural engagement and cultural achievement perspective. Recognizing the culture of a child and celebrating the unique perspectives that the child introduces to the classroom is important.
  • Teachers must have cross-cultural competencies
  • Teachers should be taught HOW to engage a conversation about Race and Equity
  • Schools should engage a panel of parents and students to talk about their cultures
  • Incorporate youth voices through digital stories
  • The school must respect what the family knows about their child

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