Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Think Like a Journalist: Parents Learn How to Get Involved

Just like journalists need to know the important questions to ask on the education beat, parents do, too. 

That’s the spirit behind a joint initiative by The Dallas Morning News, Al Día — it’s Spanish publication — and Southern Methodist University to get Hispanic parents involved in their children’s education. 

This fall the group launched the Hispanic Families Network, a program that teaches parents some of the basics of journalism in an effort to help spread information about early-childhood education within the community. DMN staff have worked with a group of mothers on skills like information gathering, reporting and fact verification techniques. 

“I think we’re really trying to figure out how to transfer some of our journalistic and reporting skills to a community that has up to now been disenfranchised,” Tom Huang, a DMN editor, said in a recent article published by NiemanLab.

The program launched in November and is using Facebook as its primary source of disseminating information, with the idea that parents will share what they find important with their friends, family and neighbors. 

The organizers settled on a focus of early-childhood education and literacy among Hispanics for the community project that’s being funded by the Knight Foundation, which supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts, according to its website

Alfredo Carbajal, Al Día’s managing editor, said in a DMN article that the combination of early-childhood education and literacy is “the key element that determines academic success later on in life.” And of the program, he added, “It’s giving the tools for the moms because they’re invested and care about this issue.”

A pilot program started in August with a group of 17 women, according to the article. The women took part in sessions that taught them how to find and verify information online, translate websites into Spanish and spread the information electronically. They then practiced posting the resources in Spanish to a closed Facebook page.

The group plans to open its closed Facebook page to the public, spread to other social media platforms and start a blog, which Carbajal is hoping will become viral.