About two months ago an article on the front page of the newspaper acknowledge a hard working middle school as number one in central New Jersey. Though the article focused to some extent on the hard work of the administrators, the main focus of the article was trying to figure out why a nearby school was considered the worst. They went on to include population demographic statistics, years of experience of the school staff and community involvement. Two things in this article caught my attention, however, and should be further discussed. Especially when another recent article in local and national newspapers shows that the Hispanic population has greatly grown in the US.
The two things that caught my attention were the school that was doing poorly had a 10% Hispanic population, while the school that was doing well, had a 10% Chinese population; and the other thing was a comment on the article on the internet version. The comment stated that Hispanics hinder the learning of their children by speaking Spanish at home and by the parents’ inability to learn English. It went on about how Hispanics leave their country to leave poverty and crime behind but come to the US and don’t want to adopt US customs.
I know making such a generalization is easier than actually looking up information and making informed comments, but I wonder how this person would feel if someone said all Americans are egotistical and think that English is the only language in the world. I’ve travelled to Spanish countries and Europe and have not seen an American trying to speak their language, even when they have settled there. They always assume, there has to be someone who can speak English yet anyone who comes to the US is wrong if they try to keep their culture and traditions by speaking their native language at home. Yes, I too am generalizing to make a point about how wrong it is to make these generalizations.
I am Hispanic and for most of my school years lived in the US. We spoke English in school and Spanish inside the home. It didn’t hinder our learning process and our parents knew plenty of English. The idea of speaking Spanish in the home was to make us bilingual, a trait most jobs look for. We did not come to the US looking to leave poverty or crime behind. Maybe we came looking for a better way of life, but mostly it was to contribute our work and knowledge to the company that hired us. Yes, that means we had a job offer before we actually got here and that job would not have been offered if we did not have something to offer the company in return.
The comment made may be the case of some people but not of all and it is definitely not the reason why a school is doing so poorly. Coming from a Hispanic population and living in a Hispanic country, it is like everywhere in the world. There are good schools that can compete with any school in the world and there are schools that do poorly. Looking at population demographics and blaming a specific group for the shortcomings is not going to fix the issue. Taking a look at the administration, students, parent involvement, academic curriculum and so on, are probably better places to start.