Immigrants See Charter Schools As Haven is the headline of a New York Times article that appeared last week. It talks about the creation of many charter schools in Minnesota that are primarily designed for immigrant students, and writes that one reason is that many immigrant parents want to be more closely involved in their child’s education. In addition, they don’t want their children losing sight of their own culture.

It’s unfortunate that the quoted parents and academics feel that it is an either/or issue.

At our high school, which is primarily Latino, African-American, and Asian (mostly Hmong), and which has a majority of students who are English Language Learners, we are very intentional about engaging parents (there’s a strong “Parent University” program and we have our Family Literacy Project, among other efforts); spreading ELL’s throughout classes so that they are connected to the wider-student body (see The Positive Impact Of English Language Learners At An Urban School); and encouraging student connection to their native heritage (we have “Spanish For Spanish Speakers” and Hmong language classes, as well as ethnic leadership classes).

I would have hoped that the parents and academics quoted in the article — instead of supporting many schools avoiding these kinds of efforts through either not knowing how to effectively respond or not wanting to —  would instead organize to hold our institutions accountable.  And it would be good if our schools were pro-active, as well.

Perhaps many of these charters were created after parents ran into a “brickwall” of resistance from school districts to respond to their concerns, and the charters were their last resort.  I can certainly understand if that was the history.  The article, however, did not give any indication that this was the case.

What do others think?