Eight schools in South Philadelphia are more than 10 percent Latino. It's time to respect the moment.
Some 200 people crowded into a basement painted a pink shade of rose at Annunciation Church at 10th near Passyunk in South Philadelphia last Sunday.
Those who showed up at the meeting were there for one reason only: to help educate their kids.
You don't see turnouts this size of concerned parents in this city very often.
In some neighborhoods you don't ever see it.
Most of the people attending the meeting were new immigrants from Mexico.
Eight schools in South Philadelphia are more than 10 percent Latino. Many of these children come from families that have been in the city five years or less.
No one doubts the Latino population is going to continue to grow, and fast--not only here in South Philly, but across the city and the nation as a whole.
In the church basement, mothers walk to the front of the room to address the assembled. They say they want to know their children's teachers and they want the learning bar to be way up here and not way down there.
They say all this in Spanish. Those of us who can't understand listen to the English translation through headphones.
What's kept these South Philadelphia parents from being more involved in their children's education is the language spoken in the schools.
It's English, of course, and since most of these parents are new to the United States, they don't know how to read or understand it yet. It makes being a help at homework time extraordinarily difficult.
At the meeting, one by one, mothers pick up the microphone, stand at the front of the room and tell of the problems they face helping their kids learn.
Which are numerous and paralyzing in scope, when you stop to think about it for even a moment.
For one, without a translator, they can't have dialogue with teachers or principals.
They have to guess how their kids are doing.
They can't read school forms or notes that come home from teachers, which means they often don't know their children are going on a school trip or have early dismissal.