The non-English-speaking immigrant students showing up in classrooms across the United States are causing problems for local school districts. Many districts now use acronyms for these students, such as LEP (limited English proficiency), ELL (English language learners), ESOL (English for speakers of other languages), and ESL for (English as a second language).
During the 2014 border crashings by Hispanic children from Central America, many arrived unaccompanied and unable to speak English. This “children’s crusade” spotlighted a lax U.S. immigration policy. President Barack Obama is now faced with a mounting educational crisis in public schools, especially since his Executive Action open-door policy for foreign-national minors is not in line with the U.S. Constitution.
In February 2015, a federal judge in Texas ruled that Texas and 25 other states were correct in arguing that the Obama administration has failed to follow the required procedures for changing federal rules. Obama is appealing the Judge’s ruling that could affect millions of undocumented immigrants, including thousands brought into the country as children and now in their 20s.
Meanwhile, in some cases, non-English-speaking children form the majority of students per class. While foreign-national students are not new to the United States, the sheer numbers of these children are. Democrats downplay this demographic change, but parents see their native-born children failing to receive proper teacher instruction in public schools.
For instance, in Virginia the influx of undocumented students is creating a minority majority in some classrooms. Fairfax County in Northern Virginia is the most populous county in the state and the home of many members of Congress and federal bureaucrats.
The county’s Democrat-controlled School Board is redrawing school districts to bus English-speaking U.S. citizen children to schools that are overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking to “balance” the diversity of students. In one such school, a kindergarten class consists of two dozen Spanish-speaking children with a few token English-speaking children bused in to provide “diversity.”
Many Hispanic children are several years older than their English-speaking classmates, who sit by, while teachers and teacher assistants instruct newly arrived Spanish-speaking children.
The number of undocumented children now in U.S. schools nationwide is estimated at between 250,000 and 650,000. School districts, depending on the number of their non-English speaking students, are faced with the added costs of hiring Spanish-speaking teachers, teacher aides, and other multilingual faculty members who speak the various dialects of Spanish.
Added classrooms and multi-lingual school materials are needed, and free breakfast and lunch are being provided for some immigrant children who come to school hungry and without money. Since the parents of many of these children are not in the United States, costs to the schools are mounting.
The Fairfax County School Board Superintendent, in early February 2015, told an audience in Annandale and Mason sections of the county that additional funding is needed for the growing population of “non-English-speaking” children. Some county schools are developing a “school within a school” to accommodate LEP (Limited English Proficiency) students. The Superintendent added, “…our ability to be innovative is limited” due to the lack of funds.
The proposed 2016 Fairfax County public school budget is $2.6 billion up by 2.6 percent ($64 million) from 2015. The number of non-English-speaking students in Fairfax County is estimated at 6,704 with each LEP student costing an estimated $20,279 per year, not including free meals at breakfast and lunch.
Fairfax County citizens have questions: “Who is going to pay for this…the parents of non-English-speaking children?” Another commented, “The Federal government should be picking up the entire tab for any undocumented students. It has failed to secure the border.” Lastly one parent noted, “Teachers are spending an inordinate amount of time helping children with language issues. English-speaking students suffer.”
Nearby Alexandria Virginia will spend an estimated $25,538 per LEP student in 2015, which constitutes 45.8 percent of instructional funding. Across the Potomac River, Montgomery County, Md., is spending an estimated $21,621 per year per LEP student.
No school district knows the exact number of undocumented students they have or will have next year. They do know that taxes to cover educational costs are rising for U.S. taxpayers, as undocumented, non-English-speaking children continue to cross the U.S. border.
President Obama’s executive immigration actions are not helping. His disregard for Congressional rights and duties under the Constitution has many U.S. citizens observing that the United States is beginning to resemble a Banana Republic.
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
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