Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Nine-week course helps parents navigate college readiness process

I don't know too much about PIQE but this sounds like a great method for providing parents access to useful tools for college readiness. Maybe the UC system will follow and offer guaranteed admissions as well. -Patricia

December 8, 2007

SANTA CRUZ -- Mexico-born handyman Hugo Palafox knew the best way to prepare his teenage children for college was to go back to school himself.

"I wanted to give them something better that I never had," said the father of four, who was among 29 others to graduate Thursday night from Harbor High School's first-ever class designed to help multicultural parents navigate the transition to college.

The nine-week Parent Institute for Quality Education, or PIQE, which Harbor High officials launched primarily to reach out to Latino families, taught parents how to prepare their students for college-placement exams and weave through the complicated college financial aid and admissions processes.

Parents who graduate from the course guarantee admission for their student into the California State University system if they meet the entrance requirements, Michel said. The guarantee is helpful when students apply at CSU campuses made competitive by popularity.

"The main thing is to get kids in schools," said Palafox, who works as a maintenance man at an apartment complex.

Assistant Principal Henry Michel implemented the PIQE program -- taught in English and Spanish -- as a way to make parents whose primary language is not English "feel more welcome to the school and just being more involved in the education process." The class also taught parents and some of the students who attended how to resolve conflicts at high school and excel at reading.

The tab for the class was $15,000, which Michel said the school paid through a mix of corporate donations and state funds. There were several Caucasian parents, and one Vietnamese parent who also participated.

Even though she didn't speak Spanish, parent Huong Bui said she felt like she fit right in.

"Many students in this class are so nice and friendly," she excitedly told fellow graduates. "I will never forget this class."

To appeal to a wide variety of parents, Marisa Escalera, an instructor with the San Diego-based PIQE program, said the company can teach classes in 10 languages. "We give them the confidence they need because of the language barrier," she said.

Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Alan Pagano told the parent graduates that they had made an important commitment toward helping their children succeed. In Spanish, he exclaimed, "Tonight, you are the stars."

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