Educating Alhambra: Translating change through journalism and discussion

More than 50 education leaders, parents, students, and community members gathered in Alhambra Thursday to discuss how to improve the city's schools. The event — hosted by Alhambra Source and Asian Americans Advancing Justice — was translated into Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Spanish so all attendees, regardless of their background, could participate and share their ideas.

Community members gather to discuss local education.

Members of Reporter Corps, a USC Anneberg and Alhambra Source journalism training program, led the multilingual discussions based on stories they are writing on education in Alhambra. Each table focused on one local education issue, including:

  • What are the challenges immigrant parents face in the college application process?
  • What are the downsides to the "model minority" stereotype?
  • Should Alhambra students be required to learn computer science in school?
  • How would Alhambra elementary students benefit from specialized art instruction?
  • How did cutting AVID hurt Alhambra's students?

A table discusses art education.

The room was filled with community members who may not have crossed paths otherwise — the president of the Alhambra Teachers Association next to a Mandarin-speaking grandparent, or the director of the Alhambra Educational Foundation next to two middle school students — and the results were inspiring.

"I really liked the discussion at my table," said Reporter Corp member Elisa Perez, who led a discussion about a lack of art instruction in Alhambra Unified School District elementary schools. "What I enjoyed was hearing about how people were completely unaware that AUSD elementary school kids weren’t having 'art time,' because it’s something all of us had grown up with. It made me realize how much my story can help Alhambra parents to be informed about this issue, and hopefully be inspired to take their concerns to the district."

Reporter Corps participant Arthur Wang (left) leads a discussion about Asian students focusing on STEM.

"I was glad to see many different people from the community come in to listen to us and discuss our education topics," said Raymond Penaia, whose discussion table about the negative impacts of the "model minority" myth included Vietnamese-speaking parents. "Even with the language barrier, they were very candid and open to telling me about the difficulties and experiences that their children went through as students at AUSD."

The program helped one Reporter Corps member see the importance of community journalism and the impact it can have on engagement. "I was surprised to see the people at my table being very engaged in my topic," said Kristine Hoang, who focused on computer science education. "That moment to me illustrated how impactful journalism really is for the community. To have discourse and talk about change with one another is so invaluable, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of that."

This presentation was part of a Reporter Corps series on the Local Control Funding Formula and its impact on Alhambra students, teachers, parents, and community. Alhambra Source will be publishing the Reporter Corps stories throughout May and June. Learn more.

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