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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Professor Is Added to the Governing Board of BPS

Professor of Human Services Miren Uriarte has been added to the governing board of the Boston Public Schools.

Professor of Human Services Miren Uriarte has been added to the governing board of the Boston Public Schools.

Miren Uriarte, professor of human services at College of Public and Community Service, has spent many years studying issues faced by the Latino and ESL (English as a Second Language) students in the New England area. As a sociologist who specializes in policies and institutional development in minority groups, Miren Uriarte is a great addition to the governing board of Boston Public Schools, where the largest ethnic group consists of Latinos.
Professor Uriarte taught undergraduate and graduate students for 34 years at the University of Massachusetts Boston since 1981. Uriarte received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Florida, after which she continued her education and got her doctorate degree in sociology from Boston University. Cuban-born Uriarte is fluent in her native language of Spanish. 
Most of Uriarte’s research is concentrated on recording Latino experiences in the region. However, she, along with other researchers, spent many years trying to find a system that would help all the English language learners excel in school. Uriarte was among the researchers who discovered that the law that required teachers of the language learners to only communicate in English with their students caused higher rates of school dropout and was unsuccessful in fulfilling its initial purpose: to help students learn English faster.
Collective efforts of Professor Uriarte’s team helped to bring the attention of the State and Federal government to this issue, which caused the change of that system for the better.
As a mother of a bilingual Boston Public School graduate who successfully completed his college education, Miren Uriarte took away some lessons from her son’s experiences. “My son was very lucky in the sense that he was in [a] school that was very flexible. He went to Fenway High School. At that time there was a program that was called Dual Enrollment, which meant that even though he was a junior in high school, in the areas in which he was good, they would send him to college.
“So, they sen[t] him to Emmanual College where he took a year of Spanish classes, after which he came to Umass Boston for a semester and half and  took courses like English, history and sociology. That program went away, and we need to bring that back. This way children don’t have to prove that they are college ready, they are college ready,” explained Uriarte. 
Miren Uriarte’s personal and professional experiences in education will be extremely helpful in making informed decisions in policy development, especially when it comes to the issues of Latino students and other English language learners.