Archive for the ‘school for refugee children’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 18, 2011
While the State Department and their private resettlement agency partners continue to resettle refugees to large urban environments – many in dangerous neighborhoods with expensive, roachy apartments and poor schools – refugees continue to out-migrate. Lynn, Massachusetts and Chicago’s north and northwest suburbs are two areas seeing fairly heavy secondary migration (Lynn is also a primary refugee resettlement site). NPR’s WBUR has the details about Lynn.
LYNN, Mass. — With ts cheaper rentals and abundance of public housing, the city of Lynn has become a magnet for families displaced by an ailing economy. This includes a growing number of immigrants — many of whom are refugees seeking a better life…
…the population has grown by almost a third. The city has become a popular destination because of its access to public assistance programs and to public housing.
Lynn is also one of the few cities in Massachusetts where the United Nations High Commission for Refugees relocates people from all over the world. Families who have endured war and famine come from countries as far away as Sudan, Bhutan and Iraq… Read more here
Chicago Public Media WBEZ explains the situation in the Chicago area. Although Chicago’s suburbs are home to established Iraqi populations, resettlement agencies like Heartland Alliance and RefugeeONE continue to resettle Iraqis into the intercity away from their already established relatives:
The Uptown neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side is an established hub for refugee resettlement. There are many agencies there, and refugees opt to live nearby. But recently more refugees bypass Chicago altogether and head to the north and northwest suburbs instead. Those communities are discovering these new populations in their schools, and suburban educators are having to adjust to meet the unique needs of their newest arrivals…
…WANGERIN: We were seeing fewer and fewer Iraqis actually come to our office and avail of our services.
Greg Wangerin is with RefugeeONE, in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. He started to notice the difference in 2007, when the number of Iraqi refugees spiked. Now, Iraqis are the largest group of refugees coming to the Chicago area.
WANGERIN: We began to examine why, and we noticed that this was the circumstance, again because they were coming to reunite with relatives up in that area.
Chicago’s suburbs are home to established Iraqi populations. They came as a result of the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s, and Operation Desert Storm in the 90s. Wangerin says there are other reasons Iraqi refugees are heading to suburbs… Read more here
Posted in Boston, Chicago, dangerous neighborhoods, Heartland Alliance, Iraqi, RefugeeONE (formerly, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries), RefugeeONE (formerly, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries), school for refugee children, schools, secondary migration, refugee, State Department | Tagged: Chicago, Greg Wangerin, heartland alliance, Iraqis, Lynn, Massachusetts, RefugeeOne, refugees, resettlement, State Department, Uptown | 5 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on February 7, 2011
The Nashville school district is beginning to make progress on helping foreign-language speaking students learn English after a 2008 state Civil Rights Office violation for segregating the students to classes where they were unable to learn English from peers. An article in The Tennessean tells more.
…Throughout Metro Nashville Public schools, these stories are becoming more common as refugees from Africa and Asia and immigrants from Mexico and Central America show up at the schoolhouse gate. Nashville has more of these students than the state’s other three largest districts combined.
Students whose first language isn’t English were 15 percent of Metro’s public school enrollment in 2005. They’re 22 percent today. The majority require special services that, a decade ago, local educators barely knew existed. In 2008, after a state Office of Civil Rights violation over foreign-language speakers’ treatment, the district was forced to rethink its approach…
Lumping together foreign-language speakers for classes was an Office of Civil Rights violation, uncovered by a state official checking how Metro educated its immigrant students. The state allows nine models for teaching English Language Learners, and none allow a district to keep students together all day for longer than one year.
“The segregation of any students is wrong,” said Linda DePriest, assistant superintendent for instructional support, who now oversees the Office of English Learners. “Children learn just as much from their peers as their lessons. We deny them that if their peers lack English skills.”
The district hired office Executive Director Nicole Chaput-Guiziani from Massachusetts, and she brought fresh ideas to the program. This school year, all English Language Learners take at least some classes with their mainstream peers and can stay in Newcomer Academies only one year.
Metro lagged in getting students out of English Language Learning services within five years — the time it takes the average student to learn enough English to succeed in school — and services varied among schools, the George Washington University study noted…
…The hope is that more students will learn on the proper grade level for their age faster — another challenge Metro faces. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, a district fails if its English Language Learners don’t test on grade level in reading and math. From elementary to high school, the subgroup has missed benchmarks in Metro three out of the past four years… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of Tennessee, children, language, Nashville, reform, school for refugee children, schools, teenagers, Tennessee | Tagged: Catholic Charities of Tennessee, civil rights, desegragation, English language instruction, English Language Learners, Nashville, Nashville Public schools, refugee resettlement, refugee resettlement program, refugees, resettlement, Tennessee | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on December 7, 2010
There is an interesting article in the Alternet about the Sudanese community in Nebraska. This is the single largest group of former Sudanese refugees in the US. Many of the Sudanese youth are fighting and joining gangs. Reasons for this disturbing trend include their families’ migration from a homeland in conflict, a difficult to adapt to (completely different from their own) US culture, parents who no longer discipline their children due to US laws against beating children, to youth dropping out of school after schools place them in grades way above their education level. In addition this second generation of immigrants has learned English much more rapidly than their parents and are able to manipulate their parents’ interaction with other members of the community, such as school officials and the police.
..early 8,000 miles away from the violence in Darfur [and southern Sudan], Sudanese residents of Omaha are experiencing their own share of turbulence in this unassuming Midwestern city. And they’re fed up with it…
…Bruce Ferrell, a retired Omaha police officer, is the chairman of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association estimates that there are three Sudanese gangs in Omaha right now (More claims there are fourteen.) Ferrell said the first gangs in Omaha began in 2004–MJ, a Nuer acronym for “Dog Pussy,” and Afrikan Pride. Others followed, like MOB, GBLOCK, 402 (the area code for eastern Nebraska), South Sudan Soldiers, and TripSet. Gang members are mostly Nuer and Dinka, and, predictably, live in low-income neighborhoods. They are the children of refugees or are refugees themselves, coming from camps in Ethiopia, Egypt, and beyond, but ending up adrift in the middle of America…
…”They’re doing graffiti, they’re wearing colors, they’re identifying by specific group names, they’re participating in crimes that are against rival Sudanese gangs. We’re seeing that more [in the past year].”… Read more here
I think what is good about South Sudanese is that they have a strong identity and pride in their culture. Sometimes pride can also be a downfall – for us all – as in the old proverb “pride does often go before the fall”, but I think what’s happening here is a generation who doesn’t yet know who they are. Are they South Sudanese or America? Trapped between? Its a hard road to travel.
Posted in alienation-isolation, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, men, mental health, Nebraska, Omaha, police, school for refugee children, South Sudanese, suicide, teenagers, teens, young adults | Tagged: Dinka, gangs, juvenile delinquency, Nebraska, Nuer, Omaha, refugees, resettlement, sudanese, youth violence | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 23, 2010
It was two weeks ago that the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced they were resuming refugee resettlement to Fredericksburg, VA. Now, the Fredericksburg School Board has written a letter to the governor of Virginia asking him to halt resettlement to the city. A column by Emily Battle in the The Free Lance-Star gives more details.
Last week, Chelyen Davis and Kelly Hannon reported on a meeting the city School Board had about how the schools check on students’ residency status in Fredericksburg. They mentioned a letter the School Board sent last week to Gov. Bob McDonnell, urging him to help them stem the flow of refugees to the city’s small school system…
…In their letter, School Board members say they have been informed that 100 refugees are to be resettled in this region in the coming year, with half of them to be placed within the city limits. Because Fredericksburg has a smaller budget, fewer schools and fewer taxpayers than its neighboring localities, some city officials have tried to make the point to the resettlement office that the burden of this high-needs population should be more equitably spread among larger, wealthier localities.
The School Board makes some similar points in its letter to the governor, which you can read here…
…The board members close by saying, “This locality simply cannot support them,” and urging the governor to encourage the resettlement office to help place refugee families in localities better equipped to meet their needs.
What, if any effect this letter has remains to be seen. Board members noted in their letter that past requests made directly to the agency responsible for resettlement have been followed by an increase in the flow of refugees to the city. Read more here
This issue tends to be most pronounced during recessions when the unemployment rate is high. During non-recession times the refugees are able to quickly join the workforce and offset the extra costs of schooling their kids with their contributions to the tax base.
Posted in capacity, Catholic, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, children, faith-based, fredericksburg, school for refugee children, schools, unwelcoming communities | Tagged: Catholic Diocese of Arlington, fredericksburg, refugee children, refugee resettlement, refugee resettlement agencies, refugee resettlement program, refugees, schools, Virginia governor | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 27, 2010
According to a November 2009 report from the Migration Policy Institute thirty states started the last school year with ESL teaching vacancies. For example, according to an article in the TRIBUNA newspaper the number of students in the state of Connecticut that speak limited or no English, including refugee students, has skyrocketed while the number of teachers qualified to teach them English has declined.
Statewide, the number of students in the state that speak limited or no English has exploded over the past decade, but the number of teachers trained to help them has actually declined.
Eight years ago, one of every 27 students in the state was classified as speaking very limited English; today the ratio is one in 18, a net gain of almost 9,000 students.
Meanwhile, the number of qualified teachers has dropped by more than 9 percent, from 850 to 772.
“We have more students than we have staff to help them,” said Mark Mc- Quillan, the state’s education commissioner. “We have a problem to solve. … This is one of the neediest groups and we are not making much headway.”
The four-year high school graduation rate for students with limited English proficiency was 53.4 percent last year compared to 79.3 percent for all students, according to the State Department of Education.
Their test scores are also across-theboard way below their English-speaking peers. For example, just 18 percent of 10th grade students at Bridgeport Public Schools tested as proficient in math compared to 38 percent of all students being proficient statewide…
…The Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think-tank for immigrant integration, reports that the number of limited-English students nationwide has grown by 57 percent from 1996 to 2006.
The problem, their November 2009 report says, is there are not enough trained teachers in the U.S. to work with these students. Thirty states started the last school year with ESL teaching vacancies.
That was the case in Connecticut this school year. In a recent report, the Connecticut Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said hiring more qualified teachers for limited-English students is a key to closing the state education achievement gap… Read more here
The result here is that we have a lot of refugee children moving through the school system and either not graduating or graduating with poor knowledge and abilities, and none of that comes cheap. The two obstacles are a limited number of qualified teachers and not enough money to fund education for students that speak limited or no English. Who should pay these increased costs? The refugee program is a federal program and some argue that the federal government needs to start reimbursing local school districts for refugee children. Or should states absorb these costs since states voluntarily accept refugees for resettlement? (At least those that do not come on their own volition from other states.) Or should local school districts pay these costs since that is how we fund our schools? One way or another we should not let children grow up in this country without basic education.
This is another issue of refugee resettlement capacity that is often ignored when refugee resettlement agencies each year reflexively demand that a larger number of refugees be resettled than were resettled in the previous year. If the agencies’ lobbying group RCUSA had its way we would be accepting 100,000 refugees this fiscal year instead of the 80,000 that the Obama Administration authorized.
Posted in capacity, children, Connecticutt, funding, school for refugee children, schools | Tagged: bilingual teachers, Connecticut, English proficiency, ESL, limited-English students, Migration Policy Institute, RCUSA, refugee children, Refugee Council USA, refugee resettlement, refugee resettlement agencies, refugee resettlement program, refugees, resettlement, TESOL | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 14, 2010
Volunteers in Rochester, New York are not happy with Catholic Family Center (CFC), a USCCB affiliate. One volunteer contacted us and described the agency’s treatment of some of its refugee clients as “disgraceful” and “completely unhelpful”. Recently they “dumped” a Somali refugee family – would not return the family’s phone calls or give the family any appointments, and later the family became homeless.
In another case CFC placed a Burundian refugee family with nine kids in a neighborhood that has the highest murder rate in NY State. CFC told the family they had to rent a particular rundown apartment that rented for $765 a month, when the going rate in the neighborhood was much lower. The volunteer said that the rent for the apartment was more than most apartments on prime blocks in the best neighborhoods in economically depressed city.
The Burundian refugee family arrived around eleven month ago and had to wait two months before their children were registered for school. The volunteer also noted that the family didn’t seem to understand about answering the phone, making it difficult for any potential employer trying to call them. Apparently CFC’s cultural orientation had been somewhat less than helpful. She said the family didn’t understand dates, months, or hours, and that they couldn’t read letters from the welfare office threatening to cut off their benefits if they didn’t attend a meeting across town on a certain day. When a second volunteer went to the family’s apartment she found that they had no food. They said they ran out of food after having to barter some of their food stamps for other things they desperately needed, such as car rides.
The first volunteer said that after 8 months of being in Rochester the family still had no prospects for a job. The mother asked her to help them make calls since she and her husband speak almost no English. She also went with the woman’s husband to CFC during the walk in hours and spoke to the family’s case worker. She described the woman as being beyond rude to them and told them that the job search was not her problem since the family had been here more than six months. She referred them to another case manager – giving them his phone number, but saying that he was not yet available as he had just returned from Sudan. The volunteer said she then tried calling him twice a day for five days but that he did not respond. The refugee heard about a place that was hiring but he and the volunteer were unable to get his resume that he had on file with CFC, and the job opportunity was lost.
Posted in Burundian, Catholic, Catholic Family Center (Rochester), community/cultural orientation, cultural/community orientation, post arrival, dangerous neighborhoods, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, failure to enroll refugee children in school, housing, substandard, Rochester, safety, school for refugee children, Somali | Tagged: Burundian refugees, Catholic Family Center, cultural/community orientation, post arrival, refugee resettlement, refugee resettlement agencies, refugee resettlement program, refugees, rochester, Somali refugees, us catholic conference of bishops, USCCB | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 21, 2010
New refugee students in South Philadelphia are learning that their new school may be much more dangerous for them than the refugee camps they came from. On December 3rd students at South Philadelphia High attacked 30 Asian students, mostly refugees. The violence sent seven Asian students to hospitals, according to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Many Asian students who walk into South Philadelphia High on Tuesday morning will be carrying something besides books.
In pockets and purses, they’ll tote a pamphlet called “Staying Safe.” It was given to them by community leaders who ran a special orientation aimed at teaching the students an important lesson: what to do if they’re attacked at school.
Knowing how to report harassment or assault is a skill most would prefer not to need. But it’s the reality of life at the school, where 30 Asians were attacked by groups of mostly African American students Dec. 3.
The violence sent seven Asians to hospitals and led about 50 to stage a weeklong boycott… here
A community leader told the students that she doesn’t know if changes will do anything to make them safer, in spite of the school being outfitted with extensive new security and programming.
…Last week, school administrators held new-student orientation, a day complete with cheerleaders in uniform and volleyball-team hopefuls knocking a ball around the gym.
The Asian session was a study in contrast. At FACTS charter school in Chinatown, three dozen students from Myanmar, China, Nepal, Vietnam, and elsewhere gathered to listen and talk.
“You guys are walking into the continuing story,” Nancy Nguyen, head of the local chapter of Boat People SOS, told the students. “We don’t know if the school is better. There are a lot of changes, but we don’t know if it’s better.”
The changes include security cameras and programming additions such as an Asian arts initiative and an in-school center for immigrants. A new antiharassment policy is in the works. The Justice Department, which recently informed the district it found merit to the Asian students’ civil-rights complaint, could impose more change.
At FACTS, organizers explained what harassment looks and sounds like, a raw introduction to students new to American culture and schools. Harassment, students heard, can be based on the place of your birth, the accent of your speech, or the shape of your eyes.
The instruction cut close to the bone, particularly when the leaders distributed a list of racial slurs and told the students: It’s wrong. And you need to know that slurs can escalate quickly and violently.
That’s common knowledge to children raised in America. But immigrants can be too limited in English to recognize racist language – and the danger it may portend.
Most of the students were heading into ninth grade at the school, which is 18 percent Asian and 70 percent African American. Some were hearing for the first time that Asians could be targets.
“If they come to beat us up, I’ll just go to the principal,” said Ghanashyam Gautam, 14, who emigrated from Nepal two years ago…
…The training program broke into subgroups. In one, a dozen students from Nepal squeezed around a table, all eyes focused on Nguyen, the Boat People SOS leader.
“I want to let you know what happened,” she began, telling the story of Dec. 3, ending with how Asian students stayed out of school…
…A discussion ensued in Nepalese. One boy wanted to know, if someone punches him, what should he do? Run away?
The first thing, Nguyen answered, is to get to a safe place. Write down everything that happened. And call one of the Asian leaders.
“It’s important for you guys to let us know if something happens,” Nguyen said…
…At times, the students’ moods turned somber, as if they were asking themselves: What am I getting into at the school?
Again, we see the refugee resettlement program resettling refugees into urban areas that are obviously not safe for them or their children. Their ability to stay safe in these environments is much less than the average American’s due to newness to the communities, language barriers, lack of knowledge of rules, etc. Many of these refugees are already suffering from stress-related mental illnesses such as PTSD due to the conditions that originally brought them to refugee camps. If seven students hospitalized for injuries in one day, or a 15-year-old refugee boy murdered in a St. Louis ghetto, isn’t enough to get bureaucrats to reconsider things, what would it take to change their minds?
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, dangerous neighborhoods, Dept. of Justice, mental health, Nepali Bhutanese, Philadelphia, safety, school for refugee children, schools, Vietnamese | Tagged: asian students, Asian students' civil-rights complaint, Bhutanese refugees, Boat People SOS, Burmese refugees, Nepalese refugees, Philadelphia, PTSD, refugee children, refugee resettlement, refugee resettlement agencies, refugee resettlement program, refugee students, refugees, South Philadelphia High, south philly, U.S. Justice Department | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 10, 2010
The Dallas school district is ordering overage students, including overage refugee students, out of Dallas’ schools and out to a special “overage” high school in a remote and dusty location in the south-side. Dallas joins several other large Texas districts, including Houston, that have campuses for overage students.
Although all sorts of perks and advantages to this arrangement have been touted – social service advisers on hand, partnerships with community groups to help with jobs and child care, and dual-credit classes with community colleges — the real reason for the school seems to be that a former school district trustee had unsavory imaginings when thinking about overage male students sitting in classrooms next to 14-year-old girls.
Former DISD board trustee Ron Price proposed creating the overage school after visiting Madison High School, where he learned of a 21-year-old male enrolling as a freshman.
“The No. 1 problem is the idea of having an adult at the age of 21 with a 14-year-old girl who just left middle school,” he said. here
One reader commenting on the story, however, writes that principals may want to get rid of these students because they want schools’ scores to look better, and that the location for the new school is a horrible place to have a school – dirty, dusty and depressing. Another reader points out that the new location also hosts alternative schools for problem students who were kicked out of their regular schools.
A Nepali-Bhutanese refugee student said that in order for her to get to the new school she will have too take a 26-mile round trip ride on public transportation. Another reader says that this will be a problem as public transportation in Dallas is awful – it takes an hour and a half just to go 8 miles to downtown on a bus — with two transfers.
There also seems to have been some subterfuge in the way that refugee students were enrolled into the new overage high school.
Dallas trustees were told that students filled out and signed an enrollment form indicating they were interested in the overage school.
But Bashu Katel, a refugee from Nepal assigned to the overage campus, said he had little opportunity to discuss his placement when he was pulled out of class at the end of last school year and interviewed.
Katel said his parents, who don’t speak English and don’t have driver’s licenses, rely on him to drive them to work. Making the trek to and from the overage school will make that impossible, he said.
“I only have one more year remaining. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Katel, who is turning 20 in January and will be a senior in the fall. “I want to graduate from Conrad and not the overage high school.”
Posted in Dallas/Fort Worth, education, Nepali Bhutanese, school for refugee children, schools | Tagged: Dallas schools, educations, overage students, refugee education, refugee resettlement, Refugee Services of Texas, refugees, resettlement, schools | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 4, 2010
According to an article in the New York Times a dedicated and highly qualified elementary school principal in Burlington, Vt has been let go so that the Burlington School District could qualify for up to $3 million in federal stimulus money for its dozen schools. The school’s student test scores were low allegedly due to a 97 percent poverty rate and large numbers of refugee children, many with little earlier education. Under current federal rules, for a district to qualify, schools with very low test scores must do one of the following: close down; be replaced by a charter (Vermont does not have charters); remove the principal and half the staff; or remove the principal and transform the school.
By all accounts, the school’s principle, Joyce Irvine, was an exemplary leader.
John Mudasigana, one of many recent African refugees whose children attend the high-poverty school, says he is grateful for how Ms. Irvine and her teachers have helped his five children. “Everything is so good about the school,” he said, before taking his daughter Evangeline, 11, into the school’s dental clinic.
Ms. Irvine’s most recent job evaluation began, “Joyce has successfully completed a phenomenal year.” Jeanne Collins, Burlington’s school superintendent, calls Ms. Irvine “a leader among her colleagues” and “a very good principal.”
Beth Evans, a Wheeler teacher, said, “Joyce has done a great job,” and United States Senator Bernie Sanders noted all the enrichment programs, including summer school, that Ms. Irvine had added since becoming principal six years ago.
“She should not have been removed,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “I’ve walked that school with her — she seemed to know the name and life history of every child.”
…Ms. Irvine wasn’t removed by anyone who had seen her work (often 80-hour weeks) at a school where 37 of 39 fifth graders were either refugees or special-ed children and where, much to Mr. Mudasigana’s delight, his daughter Evangeline learned to play the violin. here
Unfortunate for schools with already low test scores, and that receive a large influx of refugee students, rules do not allow schools to leave out refugee students from testing. Refugee students have to take tests, in English, that they are not prepared for and have no way of understanding.
Under No Child rules, a student arriving one day before the state math test must take it. Burlington is a major resettlement area, and one recent September, 28 new students — from Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan — arrived at Wheeler and took the math test in October.
Ms. Irvine said that in a room she monitored, 15 of 18 randomly filled in test bubbles. The math tests are word problems. A sample fourth-grade question: “Use Xs to draw an array for the sum of 4+4+4.” Five percent of Wheeler’s refugee students scored proficient in math.
About half the 230 students are foreign-born, collectively speaking 30 languages. Many have been traumatized; a third see one of the school’s three caseworkers. During Ms. Irvine’s tenure, suspensions were reduced to 7 last year, from 100.
Students take the reading test after one year in the country. Ms. Irvine tells a story about Mr. Mudasigana’s son Oscar and the fifth-grade test.
Oscar needed 20 minutes to read a passage on Neil Armstrong landing his Eagle spacecraft on the moon; it should have taken 5 minutes, she said, but Oscar was determined, reading out loud to himself.
The first question asked whether the passage was fact or fiction. “He said, ‘Oh, Mrs. Irvine, man don’t go on the moon, man don’t go on the back of eagles, this is not true,’ ” she recalled. “So he got the five follow-up questions wrong — penalized for a lack of experience.”
Thirteen percent of foreign-born students, 4 percent of special-ed students and 23 percent of the entire school scored proficient in reading.
Indiana Senator Richard Lugar has recommended that refugee students be kept separate from other students until they can catch up (here), and not be tested until then so that their scores will not negatively impact schools’ ratings. What worries me about that is the opposite and equally damaging practice in which refugee students receive low-quality teaching, as noted in an article about schools in Buffalo here. Although the Senator is recommending that the federal government require that schools use “best practices” to guide refugee children’s separate but equal programs, how well would the government enforce that?
If the refugee program itself is any guide, not very well I presume.
Posted in Burlington, children, education, Ethiopian, funding, government, reform, school for refugee children, schools, Somali, Sudanese, Vermont | Tagged: Burlington, education, Joyce Irvine, No Child Left Behind, principal, Race to the Top, refugee children, refugees, resettlement, schools, Senator Bernie Sanders, stimulus, Vermont, Wheeler Elementary School | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 15, 2010
According to a Buffalo News article Journey’s End Refugee Services, an affiliate of Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries, continues to resettle refugees to Buffalo, NY West Side neighborhoods – a place with questionable safety issues for refugees. Journey’s End provides a mere 15 minutes of home orientation to each refugee case, during which time they instruct refugees to keep doors locked, not to wear gang colors, and to avoid violent confrontations.
…Over the past quarter of a century, the first glimpse of a new life in Buffalo for many of 3,300 refugees arriving here came at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
And it began just like that last month for another refugee family. A family of five Burmese refugees arriving late the night of June 8 was greeted by representatives of Journey’s End Refugee Services, the organization responsible for their move to a new country.
In the airport arrival hall, caseworker Myo Thant greeted them.
…the organization resettles about 40 refugees per month, and the path to starting a new life is longer and more complex…
…Safety is Myo Thant’s biggest concern. In a new neighborhood, refugees have gotten themselves in trouble. Fights start with locals, sometimes over nothing more than the wrong colored shirt.
Keep the door locked, Myo Thant advised family members, then promised another set of keys.
“In my experience, refugees don’t know when to be afraid,” Myo Thant said earlier. “Even if you are in a dangerous situation, you don’t even know to be scared anyway.” here
Journey’s End Refugee Services has four employees who work with Buffalo schools to help children who don’t speak English.
Journey’s End education coordinator Donna Pepero and her staff of four academic coaches run the Refugee School Impact Program in the Buffalo Public school system.
The main job for Pepero and the coaches is to be in the classrooms and in the resource rooms. The coaches teach in the native languages, and the children learn English from their classroom teacher and their peers.
Yet, according to a May 17, 2010 Buffalo News article, the city’s public schools provide inconsistent, inadequate and inequitable services to students who speak English as their second language.
The city’s rapidly growing student population of recent immigrants and refugees — now numbering more than 3,000 — has historically been “largely invisible” in Buffalo schools, the report contends.
“The school system didn’t seem to notice they were here,
…”In short, the instructional program for many of these new Americans is poorly defined, inconsistently implemented, and lacking a clear strategy for developing English acquisition skills.”
…The 158-page report…harshly criticizes the vast majority of principals and teachers who work most directly with students.
…Students who speak English as a second language represent 9 percent of enrollment…
Hundreds of other immigrant and refugee students speak Somali, Arabic, Burmese and Karen, a language spoken in Thailand, Tibet and Myanmar, which had been known as Burma. More than 60 other languages are each spoken by a handful of other students.The report also found that:
• Students and their families have difficulty getting basic information about schools in the system and services available to them because the system’s Web site and most of its written material is in English only.
• A disproportionate number of non-native English-speaking students are placed in special education, compared with national rates. Among those who are placed in special ed, an unusually high percentage are classified as learning-disabled or speech-impaired, “raising questions about the diagnostic and identification process.”
…While the international school has received much attention for its work with immigrant and refugee children, these students are found in many other schools. Yet throughout the rest of the system, most teachers and staff outside the multilingual education department have low expectations for these students, the report says. These teachers and staff do not see themselves as being responsible for the students’ success — and are not held accountable for it, the report says.
“The level of instruction in most classrooms was extremely low. Students were disengaged, and instruction often involved little more than worksheet exercises, copying questions off the board or out of textbooks,” the report says. here
I guess if people are going to argue that places like the West Side of Buffalo are appropriate US resettlement sites for refugees, then I would have to ask the following: Is this the best we can do for the world’s dispossessed?
By the way, in April 8-year-old Burundian refugee Tumaini Philbert was struck and killed by a car (here). In that case, Catholic Charities was the agency that sponsored and resettled the boy’s family to Buffalo.
Posted in Buffalo, Burma/Myanmar, Christian, CWS, dangerous neighborhoods, education, EMM, ESL & ELL, faith-based, housing, Journey's End Refugee Services, Journey's End Refugee Services, Karen, New York, safety, school for refugee children, schools, Somali | Tagged: Buffalo, Burma, Church World Service, CWS, EMM, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Journey's End Refugee Services, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »