Thursday, March 03, 2005


The Brimelow brothers, who operate an excellent blog on immigration, www.vdare.com, linked to my story last week about the increasing numbers of Hispanics in Nebraska schools. I had differed with State Sen. Ron Raikes, who implied that having kids in the state’s Class I country schools was hateful, racist “white flight” by parents to avoid Hispanic children in town schools. I contended that that was bunk.

Now two more things have joined the mix. One is the story, below, from
www.vdare.com, which makes me sad. And the other is a set of surprising statistics from the Nebraska Department of Education’s “State of the Schools Report” (www.nde.state.ne.us).

In the last 15 years, the number of white students in Nebraska public schools dropped by 6 percent, from 242,690 to 228,923.

In the same time, the number of Hispanic kids increased by almost 350 percent, from 6,073 to 26,106.

So in the most recent figures available, Hispanic kids made up 9.2 percent of the total Cornhusker State public-school population. Not that long ago, that stat was 2.5 percent. It’s an amazing increase in recent years.

I’m not saying the Hispanic kids are all weak in reading and writing the English language. And we’re certainly trying to help them. In 2003-04, Nebraska school districts spent more than $19 million on instruction for non-English speaking students. But it’s a tall order.

In 2002-03, statewide, just about 50 percent of the fourth-grade English Language Learners failed to meet state reading standards, while 21.27% of all fourth-graders scored below standards.

I’m not saying all ELL students are Hispanics, but they’re a big chunk of them.

In the later grades, the gap is much wider: 62.34% of high-school ELL juniors scored below standards, while 22.75% of all juniors did.

So now, picture a third-generation Nebraska kid in a classroom with a lot of ELL kids who’ve never heard of a lot of the words in today’s homework assignment and can’t understand a lot of the teacher’s questions. As a parent, what would YOU do about that?

We may be headed where California already is. Enter the
www.vdare.com article, pulled from the Feb. 25 Santa Barbara News-Press:


Harding Elementary School PTA President Meredith Brace has led a battle for several years to stop her white neighbors from transferring out of the heavily Latino Westside campus.

Now she's joining them, saying she's not willing to make her son the guinea pig any longer.

As PTA president, Mrs. Brace said she has tried to start after-school enrichment programs in art and theater at Harding. "We made it so affordable, $20 for a six- to eight-week session. We told everybody, 'Come on, do something extra for your kids.' We had so few people sign up, we had to eliminate a lot of the classes," she said.

She said her son has struggled to make friends.

"He hasn't been invited to a birthday party. There is absolutely no after-school
interaction," she said. "For his birthday, he invited four of his classmates. Only one came."

Another Harding mother and friend of the Braces, Brenda McDonald, said she had independently decided to transfer her kindergartner out of the campus.

"It's the socioeconomic chasm. It's not a gap, it's a huge difference in the population," said Mrs. McDonald.

(The blog continues with this anecdote)

"A friend of mine worked for years in a grammar school in Wilmington, California, which has rapidly become almost entirely Hispanic. The parents of the English speaking children moved their kids to other schools because they were at a disadvantage in the classrooms due to bilingual education, which really meant Spanish speaking.

“The non-Spanish speaking office workers, including my friend, were also at a disadvantage, unable to communicate with well-meaning but illiterate parents who didn't even understand that a school wasn't a baby sitting facility."

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