800 Refugees Relocated Here

There have been a pair of interesting articles in the past few days about the hundreds of refugees resettled in Charlottesville by the International Rescue Committee. The first is what I guess qualifies as propaganda, an article by the State Department, and the second is Bob Gibson’s pieces from yesterday’s Progress. I knew that refugees were being relocated here, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I had no idea that we’re unusual in the scope and scale of our role in that process, that our schools take a big hit on those kids thanks to No Child Left Behind, or that nearly 100% of refugees are self-sufficient within four months of arriving here.

Give these a read — it’ll give you a new perspective on C’ville’s role in the international community.

5 thoughts on “800 Refugees Relocated Here”

  1. Bob Gibson’s article is titled “Language rules unfair to refugees.” However after reading it I think it’s mis-titled. I think it should have been titled “Language Rules Unfair to Area School Systems.”

    “It takes from five to seven years for a non-English speaker to become proficient academically” and yet the federal No Child Left Behind requirements start counting those refugees scores against Charlottesville and Albemarle after one year, Brown said.

    It’s not the for the refugee’s benefit that the Mayor is making his argument, it’s for the school system. And in this instance I’m inclined to agree- one year really doesn’t seem like enough time to get someone up and running with english proficiency if it’s their first year in a primarily english speaking environment. (Five years might be a little generous though).

  2. Although the NCLB requirements are difficult for any non-english speaking child, especially middle school age or older, they are particularly challenging for refugee chilcren, who may have had erratic schooling before coming here, and in the case of the somali kids, not only no schooling but no written language.

  3. … in the case of the somali kids, not only no schooling but no written language.

    I read that part of the article, and I don’t disagree. Obviously a culture with no written language is going to face major hurdles in education.

    However I would assume the bottom line is that the school system will attempt to give the students the educational assistance they need regardless of the NCLB requirements. If that isn’t the case and the school system won’t grant the assistance because of the NCLB requirements then I would be wrong and the rules would be unfair to refugees. I wouldn’t think that would be the case, so in that respect the rules are unfair to the school system.

    As a product of the city school system- While I don’t doubt that there are flaws in NCLB (and this is likely one of them) I like the idea of holding educators to higher standards and responsibility for their work product. It is needed. When I went through school (at CHS) there were bad teachers.

    I had an eleventh grade english teacher, who while the “college track” kids were learning about American Literature, our “general level” english teacher sat in class every day for the entire year and only ever handed out “vocabulary words” and graded solely on in class behavior. Parents saw passing grades on report cards, unmotivated students got pretty much an easy free period, so nobody complained. And all I ever heard was “She’s got tenure so it would really be too difficult to deal with.”

    I also realize that a family and home environment has a greater effect on the educational success or failure of a student, but that’s something there is little control over.

  4. Gibson’s article says that we receive 150 refugees per year. How many are school-aged children? How many refugee children attend city schools (and how many attend county schools?–My sense is that most, if not all, attend city schools.) If it is, say, fifty kids, then in the five to seven years it takes for these children to become academically proficient, that would be an increase of ~300 kids with special needs. This is a lot of kids for a school division of 4000. I wonder how this number compares with Fairfax, Montgomery County, Md, and other communities. Are we taking in too many families for a city our size? Are we serving them all well?

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