As a housewife, it has not been easy for me to attend class. Many times, I had to forget how tired I was in order to spend so many hours in the computer lab. With what I have learned I will be able to help my children and grandchildren with their different homework assignments. Juliana Marín, San Antonio.
Juliana and hundreds of parents like her have benefitted from the Computer Learning Program of the CCA Alliance, a Houston-based organization that places the focus on parents as the key figures in family advancement and educational attainment. CCA Alliance offers computer technology courses from Microsoft –in Spanish and English– at the public schools their children attend. Here parents increase their educational level, learn how to assist their children with computer-based assignments, and acquire skills critical to today’s Texas work force.
The CCA Alliance Computer Learning Program is being welcomed by superintendents, principals, and teachers as a means of increasing family involvement in the schools, a significant factor in reducing the dropout rate in Texas schools. Five schools in San Antonio and Dallas have turned in impressive results from the courses offered to parents in Spring 2008, according to Jose-Pablo Fernandez, founder of the CCA Alliance.
And there is great support form the Frees Foundation, Hewlett Packard, and the Purpose Prize.
The program offered two 8-week courses: Computer Technology Basics and a follow-up course in Microsoft Office. “Our expectation for graduation was 90% for the first course and 85% for the second,” said Fernandez. “In fact, we had a 91% graduation rate for the first one and 96% for the second one, with three schools reaching 100% graduation.”
The Basics course is a prerequisite for Course 2 -- Microsoft Office. “We expected that 70% of parents that finished Course 1 would enroll in Course 2,” Fernandez said. “Instead we had a 94% enrollment—34% above our estimate. The parents are hungry for this training!”
The biggest challenge facing Fernandez is keeping up with the demand to put the program in schools. Principals, school administrators, and parents are clamoring for the program, but Fernandez and his staff are hard-pressed to find the resources necessary to cover the inquiries being received from across the State of Texas. Fernandez is working with school districts and principals to enroll at least 400 parents for September 2008.
The CCA Alliance has a great vision… to “Empower Hispanic parents to become full partners in their children's educational attainment, resulting in a solid platform for intellectual growth that will enable them to reach their full potential in adult life.”
According to the CCA website, “Parental involvement in their children's academics has been an issue faced by many school districts trying to make the connection between the school and the home.
We have identified that, by offering classes in computer technology in Spanish, Hispanic parents are empowered and join the school program since they see a clear benefit: learning a skill that they need to find a job and to help their children with their schoolwork. This sets in motion an innovative education model that is cost-effective and easy to replicate.
Parents recognize the immediate benefits of learning a skill that they need to find a job and to help their children's educational attainment. It is a win-win situation for the parents, their children, the schools, and the community.”