A Question about the German phrase: "So wenig...so wenig

I hope someone can help me with a German phrasing I had never come across before. It appears to be “So wenig…so wenig”

So wenig, wie wir zu den Schülern durchkommen, so wenig verstehen die Eltern unsere bildungspolitischen Botschaften"

I don’t think it means: “the less…the less”
Could it be "No more do…than…?

This is my translation:
“We can no more get through to the students than the parents can understand our educational-political message”.

I’m not a native German speaker, but I would have translated that as “The less we get through to the students, the less their parents understand our educational policy messages”. The parents’ lack of comprehension depends on the student’s situation in a way your translation doesn’t quite convey.

Or another phrasing that conveys the dependency would be “as little as…, just as little do …”

Thanks MrDibble. You could be absolutely right. But from the little I know the phrasing for “the less…the less” is “Je weniger…desto weniger (noch)…” so 'the less…the less" doesn’t seem like a good fit.

Just to clarify, the sentence is a quotation from a book on the state of German education, authored by a German. I don’t have the details on either the title or the author right now.

The phasing “…can no more …than…” is usually something like:

“kann/können…genauso wenig/ebenso wenig wie…”

The meaning here is not along the lines of „the more/the less“, but „neither/nor“. The teachers can get through neither to the children, nor to the parents, and grammatically, the two don’t really have much to do with each other.

Based on my reading before and after the sentence, it seems to me that it’s not “neither…nor”, but more “one is as little as the other”, the emphasis being on “wenig”.

"Aber ohne Bildung wird jede Integration scheitern. Solange das nicht anerkannt wird, müssen wir uns über die Qualität der Integrationsmaßnahmen keine Gedanken machen. Sie werden nichts bewirken. Ich versuche in jedem Elterngespräch auf die Bedeutung von Bildung hinzuweisen. “Warum besucht das Kind nicht den Gratis-Förderungsunterricht?” Die Antworten, die ich erhalte sind kurz und inhaltsleer. “Muss lernen”.
Es ist nicht nur die Sprachbarriere. So wenig, wie wir zu den Schülern durchkommen, so wenig verstehen die Eltern unsere bildungspolitischen Botschaften. Es ist als würden einander Vertreter zweier Welten gegenübersitzen. Sprache, Kultur, Erziehung, Wertvorstellungen --alles ist unterschiedlich. Es gibt keine gemeinsame Basis. Diese herzustellen, wäre Aufgabe von Politik und Gesellschaft. Es wurde verabsäumt. Noch immer lassen wir den Eltern in der Schule zu viel durchgehen.

(page 82, “Kulturkampf im Klassenzimmer” Susanne Wiesinger mit Jan Thies)

Native German speaker here. MrDibble is right, both translations are correct.

Thank you EinsteinHund and Mr Dibble. The phrase So wenig…so wenig is new to me. But I see the logic of the phrasing now. When I plug in “as little as…, just as little do …” it does make sense.

Seconding EinsteinsHund and MrDibble, particularly MrDibble’s second suggestion (“as little as…”) I would like to add as a professional interpreter that you do not have to stick to the structure of the original sentence. Perhaps the sentence you found would also be correctly translated as:
Just as the parents do not understand our educational policy messages, we are unable to get through to the students.
You will notice that I have inverted the order students/parents. Depending on the liberties you want take, you might even add a second sentence like:
The latter, incidentally, probably having some relation to the former.
which is not in the words of the original, but in its meaning. And meaning is what you convey first. You need clarity. Style second, if possible.
Translators can analyze such things forever. In case you are interested, here is an article in the New Yorker I recommended recently in another thread. It is about translating a four word sentence from French into English: “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte.”

Thanks Pardel-Lux. Can anyone suggest some alternative phrasing to so wenig…so wenig. It doesn’t seem to be a very common phrase.

Perhaps “so wenig…so wenig” is the most economical phrase in this particular instance.

Genauso, wie wir nicht zu den Schülern durchkommen, verstehen die Eltern unsere bildungspolitischen Botschaften auch nicht
means exactly the same. The word “auch” may be deemed optional by some; my feeling is it should be included.

Thanks Pardel-Lux,
Out of curiosity how does 'so wenig…so wenig…sound to the German ear?

It sounds totally normal, though the construction may not be applied very often. But every German would understand the meaning.

It does not sound nice. The style is neither fluid nor elegant.
My sentence above is not much better either.
Wir kommen zu den Schülern nicht durch. Ebenso wenig verstehen die Eltern unsere bildungspolitischen Botschaften. may be better.

I concur with Pardel-Lux that it’s not very elegant.

And I concur with EinsteinsHund that every German would understand it.

That was my sentiment too. I’m not surprised I’ve never seen the phrase.

This discussion reminds me of the construction “je…desto…” as in “je mehr, desto besser” (equiv. Swedish “ju mer, desto bättre”). I don’t know if it’s frequently used but we had to learn it in school.