Parents take English to help the kids
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 9, 2004
Louie Villalobos

A group of parents is meeting three times a week in the hopes of learning English, a language their children seem to be picking up with ease.

By the end of the four-week course, all 17 students of the adult English class at Ira Murphy Elementary School, in the Peoria Unified School District, should feel more confident about talking to teachers and helping their children tackle their homework.

That's parent Maria Serna's goal for the class, which is entering its third week.

Her children speak more English than Spanish, making it difficult for her to know how they are doing in school. She says the problem will worsen as the coursework becomes harder.

"I have to spend a lot of time translating," Serna said in Spanish. "It's better to learn English."

Almost all of the English students are parents with children attending the school as Title 1 students, a program for children who qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Anne Buhrmann, Title 1 facilitator at Ira Murphy, says that if the parents learn English, they will be more involved with the education and the lives of their children. She also wants to bring in citizenship and general education classes for parents.

The school has about 725 Title 1 students, most of whom need extra help in reading and math. Buhrmann said the numbers of Title 1 students and Spanish-speaking parents have steadily increased over the years.

Contact the reporter at or (602) 444-6940.