We need more of your money!

Your tax dollars:

     The opening sentence of a Washington Post article on August 1, boldly stated:

  “Spending on English instruction must be quadrupled to more than $4 billion a year for the next six years to make legal and illegal adult immigrants proficient in skills crucial to their assimilation and the economic future of a country whose population is increasingly foreign born….”

This is according to a new national report from the Migration Policy Institute, a pro-immigration non-profit group.

        They say we currently spend $1 billion a year on ESL instruction for adults and that is not enough.   The report also states this little nugget:  the population of the US with limited English grew from 14 million in 1990 to more than 23 million in 2005.  I’m betting its higher than that because we don’t even know how many illegal aliens are here.

       The Post article concludes with a  comment about how learning English is good for business.  Yes, I guess it’s kind of hard to give instructions to the cheap factory labor when they don’t understand a word being said, could be kind of dangerous too.   

         Here is what I’ve heard happens with refugees and their ESL lessons.  First, they are not required to attend.  If they have a class at the local community college (paid for by you) and something more interesting comes up, like a group day trip, they don’t show up for class.  Then there is the problem of classes of Muslim men and women where the men intimidate the women into silence.  Not a good learning environment.     Since they have no baby sitters to watch the kids, the kids come along too which makes instruction more difficult.

     If the refugee is from some African countries, they often are completely illiterate so instructors can’t start with a book.  One must start teaching as if the person was in kindergarten, with simple materials.  So, it will be a long difficult haul.

     Refugees from some parts of the world are heavy smokers and skip out of class frequently to light up.   And, since many of these NGO contractors are keeping a tight rein on the budget, transportation to the local college is often limited.   This is where the NGO contractors are not doing their job, they are not lining up enough volunteer help.

       And, finally, there is such a push to get the refugees working (and granted we all want them working rather than continuing on welfare), that when jobs come along, usually factory jobs with odd shifts, the English lessons go by the wayside.

       So, I guess all that means we need to spend more money.

       When you start researching Refugee Resettlement in your state, ask your state Refugee office about what it costs for ESL classes where you live.