O.K. sounds like your standard public education problem—test scores are low, teachers blamed, feds want changes and have offered money to bring “change” faster. But, what is the whole story?
We have written many many times about Lewiston, Maine a city coping with the joys of diversity and multiculturalism. Here is a story yesterday (to add to our growing Lewiston archives) from the Sun Journal entitled, ‘Longley school staff sad about changes.’ Hat tip: Susan
…. “it’s very sad here now,” said veteran school secretary Pauline Valliere. “Everybody’s bonded together. There are close relationships. … It’s being broken up.”
Longley is one of 10 Maine schools offered federal money to improve persistently low test scores. Longley could get as much as $2 million to try to improve its test-score standings.
But the money comes with a catch: Grant providers want dramatic improvement and change. Half of the school’s teachers, and the principal, have to go.
Half of Longley’s 20 teachers will be transferred to other Lewiston schools this fall; 10 other teachers will be assigned to Longley.
The changes have some Longley staffers feeling bruised. They’re worried that new faculty may not understand their students.
Who are their students?
An estimated 96 percent of Longley students qualify for free and reduced lunches; the state average is 42 percent. Situated in the city’s poorest neighborhood, for years many Longley students began kindergarten already academically behind youngsters the same age in other neighborhoods. In recent years, Somali families have moved in, which means 62 percent of the students are learning to speak English.
Another telling sign is that at Longley there is no parent-teacher group. “We can’t get parents to come in,” said secretary Valliere.
Students don’t speak English and parents are not involved with the school, so what are a new principal and a bunch of new teachers going to do about it? One solution is a longer school day. Oh, brother!
Help is needed, Hayes (Linda Hayes who works in the cafeteria) said, but she questioned what any teacher could do when her sixth-grade class has 26 students, half of whom cannot speak English well enough to learn their lessons.
The Longley plan in the grant application proposes to boost student learning in part through longer school days and a longer year for students who need more learning time.
There is something missing here. This doesn’t make sense. What will a new bunch of different teachers be able to do? Unless the entire school becomes a school for foreign students, the American students will still be held back in classrooms dominated by immigrant/refugee students. Test scores cannot improve under those circumstances.
Last month I told you about DeKalb County, Georgia which has a whole separate school for immigrant children, here. But I wonder about that too. Didn’t we long ago make separate but equal schooling illegal? Are we returning to that? I have to admit I don’t follow the trends in public education since my family left the public school system going on two decades ago for homeschooling and private schools.
My advice: get out of the system— homeschool your kids (it is not that hard) or find a good and affordable private school.
For new readers, more Somalis are on the way:
The US State Department has admitted over 80,000 Somali refugees to the US (this linked post continues to be one of the most widely read posts we have ever written) in the last 25 years and then in 2008 had to suspend family reunification because widespread immigration fraud was revealed through DNA testing. That specific program has not yet been reopened (that we know of), but will be soon.
Nevertheless, thousands of Somali Muslims continue to be resettled by the State Department as I write this. We recently learned that we will be taking 6000 Somalis this year from one camp in Uganda and as many as 11,000-13,000 total from around the world.
Through the Refugee Resettlement program alone 2141 legal Somalis have already arrived in this fiscal year (2010) as of April 30th with an unknown number arriving through other legal programs and illegally across both our borders.