A plan to build two public high schools dedicated to helping immigrants struggling with the English language in Washington has pitted the black and Hispanic communities against each other.
The Prince George’s County, Maryland, chapter of the NAACP is not happy with the proposed plan set to take effect next school year.
The two new schools aim to help immigrant students who are struggling to adapt to the English language, but the NAACP believes the plan will pull resources from other students and redistribute them to Hispanic students. Some have gone as far as to compare it to segregation, Fox News reports.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Bob Ross, president of the Prince George's County branch of the NAACP, told Fox News.
Ross cited the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled that separate schools for black and white students violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
“It risks turning Prince George’s County into a segregated school system,” Ross explained.
Latino Advocacy group Casa de Maryland doesn’t see it that way. It argues the schools are not in violation of the Constitution because they are not mandatory and are simply being built to provide options to immigrants.
“If we are saying all (English-language-learning) students must go to these schools, that’s one thing. But we are not,” said Tehani Collazo, senior director of schools and community engagement at CASA.
Collazo went on to criticize Ross’ comments about pulling resources from other students to benefit Hispanic students.
“We see these students as Prince George’s County students,” Collazo added. “They are eligible for an education. The charge that funds are being taken away is a false charge because they are all of our students.
“They deserve access — full access — to a quality education.”
CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools Kevin Maxwell agrees.
“Like the many that already exist across the country, the International Schools are schools of choice,” Maxwell wrote in a statement to Fox News. “They are built on an innovative and proven model that will help support the needs of our most struggling group of learners — English Language Learners.”
Maxwell added that the two new schools focus “on providing opportunity for all of our students no matter their country of origin, race, creed or status.”
Both the CASA International School and the Langley Park School will open their doors in September. They will start off with 100 ninth graders and will add another 100 every year until they reach their capacity of 400 students each. They are funded in part by a $3 million Carnegie Corporate grant along with state and local funding.
Other CASA-International Community Schools in New York and California have reported success.
In New York, it was reported that 64 percent of students at the CASA schools graduated in four years. Only 45 percent of students in other city schools were able to accomplish that feat.
Another recent study by CASA showed that 82 percent of students living in the Langley Park school district are at risk of dropping out of school. It believes opening these new schools will help tackle these “serious challenges.”
Ross believes the schools will cause tensions between the black and Hispanic communities to increase. He is putting the blame on CASA for that.
“We don’t want to fight,” Ross said. “You’re causing a black-brown fight in the community and the fact is, we need programs to be inclusive for all our children.
"Everybody has dreams. You are living the American Dream,” Ross said of CASA. “What’s wrong with pushing to secure it for everyone?”
The NAACP will meet with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III on March 26. If that doesn’t work, Ross said he is prepared to go into “community action mode,” meaning rallies and demonstrations.
Source: Fox News
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons