Focus on the Family in Drive for Education Equity

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has been examining the education needs of Hispanic families, particularly low-income ones, and the impact of digital media. In a recent article published in Education Week and on the Cooney Center blog, Executive Director Michael Levine and his colleagues Vikki S. Katz (Rutgers University, Joan Ganz Cooney Center) and Carmen Gonzalez (University of Washington) explain why it’s critical that the market focus on engaging the Hispanic students and families now. Their research shows that “while the technologies themselves are usually touted as the change factor, relationships matter most. Parents’ relationships with administrators and teachers are crucial to how they integrate technology at home.”

Current Trends

  • One quarter of the 3.5 million children starting kindergarten this fall in the United States will be Hispanic. Just over one-third are growing up below the poverty line.
  • Hispanic kindergartners score lower in reading and mathematics than all other ethnic groups, and more than 8 in 10 are not yet proficient readers by 4th grade.
  • Over one-third of the Hispanic children who start their educations this fall will drop out before they finish high school.

Action Steps for Education and Policy Leaders

  • Support educators so that they can support the nation’s families, but not just in terms of technology. “Building meaningful relationships with families in increasingly diverse districts requires modernizing existing teacher-training programs and providing ongoing support for established teachers.”
  • Empower families as partners for achieving equity. “Wiring underserved schools and community institutions will not close opportunity gaps unless we do the same for the homes where children live.”
  • Recognize that well-informed public-private partnerships can be catalysts for change. “Our research reveals that national programs to address digital inequality are often out of tune with community needs…Access was a less pressing issue for these families than the lack of local skills-training and affordable tech support.”

Read “Family Partnerships Are Key to Digital Equity,” by Vikki S. Katz, Michael H. Levine, & Carmen Gonzalez, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center Blog,  (September 18, 2015)

Digital Issues