Tags: Immigration | wichita | kansas | schools | immigrants | refugees | 81

Kansas School District Struggles to Educate - in 81 Languages

By    |   Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 10:49 AM

The Wichita, Kansas, school district is struggling with educating an influx of young immigrants and refugees — and the 81 different languages they speak, The Associated Press reported.

As the increase in foreign students continues, so do concerns for funding English-language learning classes for the students, whose parents must work with a teacher and interpreter to understand their children's education in the U.S. The interpreters are required by federal law.

Said the AP of the growth: "Ten years ago, fewer than 4,300 Wichita students required ESOL — English for Speakers of Other Languages — service. This year, 9,316 students qualified for services, or about 18 percent of the district population."

While about 85 percent of the district's immigrant students are Hispanic, a new influx from the Middle East and Africa have entered Wichita schools, many coming to America as refugees, the AP said.

"Wichita is definitely a diverse district, and it's becoming more so," Stephanie Bird-Hutchison, who works in the district's Multilingual Education Service Center, told the AP. "Every continent except Antarctica is represented in Wichita schools."

While the schools are under a new block-grant funding program, some district officials say they are concerned that plan could keep them from receiving more money to help ensure the new students get the type of services they need to integrate into an American school, the AP said.

The language demographic has shifted in Wichita, the AP said, as the number of students who speak languages from the Middle East and Africa has risen, while those from Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia have declined.

"The 10 main language groups, in order, are: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Lao, Cambodian, the Chinese family of languages, Bengali, Urdu and Swahili," the AP said.

School districts around the nation have struggled with how to best handle an increasing number of immigrants, including making some sit for state-required testing. The push-pull has been felt in places like Indiana, where funding for such programs is down and testing requirements are up, the Indianapolis Star reported.

In one upstate New York town, advocates for immigrant students have sued the school district, claiming programs available for them are weak, The New York Times reported.

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The Wichita, Kansas, school district is struggling with educating an influx of immigrants and refugees - and the 81 different languages they speak, The Associated Press reported.
wichita, kansas, schools, immigrants, refugees, 81
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2015-49-30
Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 10:49 AM
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