The changing face of America Statement of a problem: zak yousuf

Photo: slate.com

For the first time in American history, the number of minority students in public schools is greater than the white student population (NCES). Yet minority students still have the lowest academic achievement rates, lowest retention rates and are going to college at a lower rate than their white counterparts. Public schools have yet to figure out how to best support these students in order for them to succeed at the same level as white middle class students. It’s important for the country to figure out these issues because minority groups will soon be the majority of the nation’s population, we can no longer afford to let so many minority students fall through the cracks in public schools.

This video highlights the inequalities in educational achievements of students in the America

In order for the US to continue to lead in the global arena, these minority students and especially English Language Learners (ELLs) have to succeed in school. ELLs are growing at an even faster rate than other minority groups in US schools; these students are the future of the country and currently they are disproportionately affected by these issues.

In the following video Sonia Nieto helps us think differently about the achievement gap, especially for English Language Learners

ELLs are students whose primary or home language is a language other than English. They include recent immigrants, second generation immigrants. They may also include other minority groups that speak an English dialect that's different from the middle class populations. ELLs are sometimes former refugees who fled their countries because of a war, political or religious persecutions. They have often lived in a refugee camp or a neighboring country to theirs before coming to the US, many of these ELLs have experienced interruption in their schooling.

Other ELLs are international students; they come to the US for educational purposes because of the prestige the US holds around the world. Some international students are brought to the country by the parents who may be employed in the country. These economic migrants are different from those who come to the US to work in low wage or to do farm work. However, they may experience similar issues when they come to the US. Many of them find schools that are not accessible, teachers that do not know how to teach them and an environment that is foreign to them.

As a former English language learner, my experience transitioning to American schools was a difficult one. I remember being left alone in the classroom, for most of the day I sat and observed everyone. I wasn’t included in the day-to-day activities of the classroom. I felt isolated while surrounded by many people, my teachers were always busy and the class moved very fast. The teacher taught around me, past me and I become used to not participating in class discussions. Because I did not have enough vocabulary in the English language, I was treated as I was dump and mute, like someone that was incapable of understanding.

Many times I knew what was going on around me, I was even able to make friends with one or two of the students. I knew I needed to make friends because I needed help with the language and the assignments that I was still expected to get done. I received help with my school work at times and at times the students were too busy with their own work or did not want to get bothered. I remember being frustrated, not feeling that I was accessing the curriculum the same way as other students and losing confidence in myself.

Currently I work as a Student Success Specialist serving first generation and low-income college students because of the issues I faced in the educational system. My goal is to keep looking deeper into these issues and hopefully find solutions in order to ensure access to all students.

Credits:

Created with images by stevenmeans67 - "child face portrait" • Shane Global Language Centres - "Teenage Activity Programme 2009" • blogefl - "Graham_IWB" • mosaic36 - "IMG_4411"

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