There is a group of high school aged refugees in the State of Pennsylvania (PA), along with officials from the PA branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that are suing the Lancaster school district for the school services they are receiving which they claim are not good enough. (H/T JacksNewswatch)
Yes, it’s absolutely true that many U.S. and Canadian schools need improving. But, remember, these refugee students and their families had to flee for their lives or, at the very least, flee from religious persecution and poverty.
For example, one girl was in a refugee camp from the age of 5 to age 17. Meaning, she lacks a minimum of eight years of the types of English language, thinking and computational skills Americans take for granted.
And, now they are complaining? Talk about an entitlement attitude!
Specifically, the ACLU justification for the suit is as follows:
“The refugees hoped to enter McCaskey High School, known for its superior academic program, but instead were sent to Phoenix Academy, an alternative high school for ‘underachieving’ students in the district. “
The refugees hoped to enter a high school known for its superior academic program? Think about that for a moment.
Students who grew up in the U.S. spend up to 8 years in elementary and middle school and at least one year in kindergarten. Yet, refugees coming to the U.S., most who know little or no English on arrival or have only the most basic reading and computational skills — have the expectation that they “should” expect to jump right in with those students?
How naive is that? Do the officials at the sponsoring union not have any understanding of the concepts of learning readiness and prerequisite knowledge?
I mean, if they are parents, or relatives of children, surely they know how children don’t acquire advanced skills without learning all the smaller prerequisite skills first. I mean, toddlers don’t usually learn to talk by speaking immediately in full sentences. Rather, they learn word by word.
It is the same for reading — fluency comes first (which includes vocabulary development) with comprehension coming much later. The reason comprehension comes later is that fluency reading skills must be 100% automatic before you can figure out the main idea of a story.
I mean, as long as a reader is still trying to identify a word or phrase, and understand its meaning, they are not ready for academic courses.
Of course, the school district feels the legal action is without merit. Superintendent Damaris Rau responded in a statement:
“We are confident we are doing an excellent job supporting our refugee students who often come to school with little or no education.’ A special ‘acceleration program’ at Phoenix was created for under-credited students, both refugee and non-refugee, which gives them the opportunity to earn credits toward a high school diploma by the age of 21.”
Rau also explained: “At Phoenix, the students receive various services including remedial services, English classes for Second Language Learners, after school programs, job and computer skills as well as mentoring services.”
It is hard to know what the real issues are in this case. I mean, if these students are being bullied at Phoenix, they will also be bullied at McCaskey. Why? Because the refugee students dress differently. They have less money and they probably don’t speak English well. Plus, they appear to hold on to cultural and religious views that are not in the mainstream.
Are those reasons for bullying justified? Of course not, but they are what refugees have experienced for decades or longer. Just ask those of German and Japanese descent how they were treated during and after WWII.
The crux of the matter is, in my opinion, that this law suit is not going to teach these refugee students how to overcome the discriminatory and academic barriers that others have overcome. Rather, it is going to teach them that it is okay to blame someone else for the reasons they are having difficulties adjusting to life in America.