2014 Archives

Dallas News, Al Día, and SMU launch initiative to help Hispanic families navigate early education


The following is from the Nov. 22, 2014, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Doris Luft de Baker, an assistant professor at SMU who studies Spanish-speaking English learners, is helping implement the program.

November 24, 2014

By Nanette Light

Claudia Alaniz quit school at age 12 to help sell bread in a bakery in Mexico to support her family.

Today, she dreams of her 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son attending college.

She’s not alone.

Doris Luft de Baker
Doris Luft de Baker

Alaniz and 16 other women are part of the Hispanic Families Network, an initiative to train Hispanic families to use journalistic techniques to find and spread information about the importance of early-childhood education and literacy.

The program was launched Saturday during a carnival at Walnut Hill Recreation Center in Dallas. There, children sat on the gymnasium floor eating popcorn and cotton candy while cheerleaders from Medrano Middle School and dancers from Ballet Folklorico Huehuecoyotl performed in colorful costumes.

The initiative is jointly led by The Dallas Morning News, its Spanish publication Al Día and Southern Methodist University.

“A lot of families don’t have time to dedicate to their children because they have to work. They also don’t know about the resources available. This program helps spread the word,” Alaniz, 37, said through a translator at Saturday’s launch. She’s currently taking English classes and spelled out her name in English to practice.

The network is being funded through a $250,000 grant that The News received from the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that supports journalism, engaged communities and the arts.

Alfredo Carbajal, Al Día’s managing editor, said the newspapers and SMU had been meeting with community organizations and foundations trying to find an impactful community project. They landed on early-childhood education and literacy among Hispanics. . .

Doris Luft de Baker, an assistant professor at SMU who studies Spanish-speaking English learners, was enlisted to help teach parents and evaluate the program. She has worked with Hispanic families in Oregon and Texas for the last four years. It’s a misconception that Hispanic parents are disinterested in their children’s education, she said.

“Latino families are hungry to know more and to understand,” she said. “If they don’t come to school or they don’t come to PTA meetings, it’s not because they’re not interested. Sometimes it can be the language.”

Read the full story.

# # #



Find an Expert