4.18.2007

New York's Ed Reforms Deny Immigrant Students Equal Educational Opportunity

New York's shameful practice of denying immigrant students the same level of access to its newest schools (small academies and chartered schools) continues unabated.

In School Records on Special English Classes Are Called Works of Fiction by Critics (NYTimes - 4.11.07), reporter Samuel G. Freeman logs yet another entry into the record regarding this unconscionable denial of equal educational opportunity to immigrant students.

Here are excerpts:

“Why do we have this problem, and why is the current response so wrong?” said Chung-Hwa Hong, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, a group that follows educational issues, among others. “The problem is too pervasive to be dismissed as a school-specific one. In every major reform initiative, like small schools, the English language learners come up only as an afterthought. The reforms that should be lifting the most vulnerable students make them into collateral damage.”

Nina Chanpreet Singh, an E.S.L. teacher at Sports Professions, characterized the school's treatment of immigrant pupils more as a result of neglect, poor facilities and inadequate funds than of any deliberate bias. She said she considered the school to be “friendly” to E.S.L. students, about 30 of its 260 pupils. But she, too, drew broader conclusions from its performance.

When English language learners' needs are not met and “they do not receive the education they are mandated -- one of their most basic human rights -- it is a citywide and nationwide problem,” she said. “Entire generations of immigrant Americans are kept in a cycle of poverty. They do not have a means to move up in society, participate fully in society or fulfill their life's dreams.”