The Latino Education Council of Dane County will host its annual Back 2 School Summit at Centro Hispano on Saturday, Oct. 5, that will address themes of advocacy, access and preparation for Latinx students and their families.
“We want people to get information, get connected, meet people and get better connected to resources,” Latino Education Council/Consejo Latino de Educación President Ananda Mirilli tells Madison365.
The program will begin at 9:00 a.m. Those who attend will have an opportunity to hear from MMSD Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore, learn about the state of education from UW-Madison Associate Professor Dr. Armando Ibarra, and engage with one another in between workshops until 1 p.m.
This free event will hold workshops for both adults and youth with childcare and interpreters available to those in need of those resources. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about a variety of resources available to them before leaving after lunch.
“I think part of it is just being able to provide multiple entry points for our families. Sometimes there are multiple events our families might be attending,” Mirilli said.
She said the event will allow those who have heard about these resources multiple times to ask questions or consider accessing them. For some, this might be the first entry point for those resources.
The summit will give parents the opportunity to speak to one another, Mirilli said. She explained parents often share experiences about difficulties in the school system or advocating for their child’s education.
“There a network they can access so they don’t need to feel alone or that their only option is to struggle,” Mirilli said.
One of the main goals of the Latino Education Council is to foster leadership within the community. Mirilli, who also serves on the MMSD School Board of Education, said she did not see herself as a leader at first.
“As an immigrant, I did not know I had the rights to advocate for my daughter for services. I did not know what those services were,” she said.
Mirilli began her journey in the school system through advocating for her daughter’s education. She said parents, regardless of language barriers, ability, socioeconomic status have a right to be involved with their child’s education.
“When I was working for the district, one of the things I wanted to make sure that got elevated was that the school was also a great resource for access through barriers,” Mirilli said.
She also said Dane County has exceptional resources available to families through nonprofits, however, the school district should also provide resources for families. At the summit, Mirilli said the council would also like families to have an understanding of English as a second language service.
She explained a lot of the resources provided through the school district often involve a learning curve. Mirilli said the main point the council would like to get across is that every student that enters MMSD is entitled to additional support and that families qualify for those resources.
“I think the beauty of the Latino Education Council is that it has always been led by people who have experience navigating the system themselves,” she said.
The Latino Education Council will also be collaborating with Voces de la Frontera on this event. The immigration advocacy group will share information about their services and efforts with attendees at the summit.
“My hope for every parent in Madison and Dane County is that they understand they have rights and they know where to go so they can advocate for their rights,” Mirilli said.