Across America, thousands of teachers and administrators are coping with a huge migrant influx into their classrooms.
When interviewed, academic personnel put on a happy face — all is well; we welcome the new diversity infusion, and migrants will receive every educational benefit that we have to offer.
Jean Skorapa, a rural Maine school district superintendent, said that the 67 migrant children enrolling in her Freeport-area district “are a tremendous, tremendous benefit. They make our community diverse and more well-rounded.”
Skorapa’s patter is the official, nonsensical public stance that school officials and teachers take.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to make sure this is the most welcoming state in the country,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said while scrambling to find housing for the record number of migrants now present in the Nutmeg State.
Lamont uttered incomprehensible PC talk. If he can’t house the migrants already in his state, he couldn’t possibly want to accept more.
And yet … Lamont mustn’t veer from the Democrats’ official line, no matter how absurd it sounds.
In the lunch room, where teachers talk more frankly among their peers, the candid chatter reflects deep reservations and dissatisfaction with their sudden increased responsibilities of caring for non-English-speaking students, perhaps sitting in a classroom for the first time.
I should know; I overheard many of those fraught discussions.
The already overcrowded San Joaquin County classrooms suddenly had a worldwide non-English speakers’ presence.
The refugees included Southeast Asian war escapees’ children from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Other arrivals came from refugee camps in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.
IRCA recipients were mostly Mexican migrant farm laborers’ kids, as well as other school-age Central Americans.
The teachers I worked with were caring and did their best, but they often were exhausted and overwhelmed. Imagine spending seven hours a day trying to communicate with fidgety non-English speakers.
Teaching aides who spoke the students’ languages would seemingly be helpful. But in truth, an aide was one more person for a teacher to keep an eye on.
And, since the certified instructors spoke neither the Southeast Asian languages nor Spanish, none could be certain that the aide understood the lesson or conveyed it properly.
In short, chaos reigned. No one learned. Teachers had to split their precious instruction time among the native-born students, the non-English-speaking migrants and the aide.
The significant migrant surge puts teachers at a disadvantage, thwarts native-born kids’ progress and harms the migrants.
In a structured classroom for the first time, in unfamiliar surroundings and unable to understand what’s being said, the child becomes bewildered, frustrated and, eventually, angry.
Although the migrants can’t be faulted for their parents’ decision to head north, lured by President Joe Biden’s siren song, nevertheless, the new demands they impose on teachers’ time bodes poorly for existing students.
Many have already drifted toward the bottom of the learning ladder. The most recent education data showed that national test scores plunged for 13-year-olds, and as The Washington Post reported, reflected the largest mathematics drop in 50 years.
Hardest hit were the lowest-performing students. In math, their scores showed declines of 12 to 14 points, while their highest-performing peers fell 6 points.
The pattern for reading was similar, with low performers seeing twice the decline of higher ones.
On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, considered the nation’s report card, scores reflect testing in fall 2022, comparing it to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic and its disruptions. If NAEP is a report card, the grade is F-.
English learners, or ELs in ed speak, are increasing dramatically. The percentage of public school students who were ELs was higher in fall 2020 than in fall 2010 in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
Remember, the 2020 EL census was taken three years before Biden opened the border. Grades 1-4 had the highest percentage of ELs, ranging from 15% in first grade, and declining slightly through the fourth grade to 13.3%.
Significantly, the early primary school grades are essential for developing a sound education base. Experts say that catching up, as many ELs will need to do, is difficult.
Geralde Gabeau, Massachusetts’ Immigrant Family Services Institute’s executive director, explained that illegal alien children will be placed “in a first-grade class with other students who already know their ABCs, who already know how to read, so those children are going to suffer.”
Biden’s open borders policy has done the impossible to believe. He has created a public school crisis in which everyone loses.
Teachers can’t effectively educate; native-born kids get less classroom attention than they deserve; and the migrants struggle, too often unsuccessfully, to adapt to the new world around them.