By Sandy Fitzgerald / Newsmax
At least 30,000 migrant Central American students are heading to
classrooms across the country this fall, bring low levels of education
that will bring down classroom averages, and overwhelm already
struggling school districts, educators are warning.
The Obama administration announced earlier this month
that some 30,340 foreign youths and children had been distributed, with
the bulk, 4,280, remaining near where they crossed the southern border
in Texas, reports The Daily Caller
Other high numbers of students headed to Virginia, which received 2,234
youths, Maryland, with 2,205, North Carolina, with 1,191, and New
Jersey, getting 1,504.
Even more students may be showing up in the classrooms, with more than 100,000 migrants being distributed nationwide.
In many cases, such students have "very, very limited amounts of
education [and] in some cases, they cannot count to 10,” Caroline
Woodason, assistant director for student support at the public schools
in Dalton, Ga., told The Dalton Daily Citizen
"They can’t turn on a computer. They’ve never even seen a computer.
Also, they, in most cases, cannot speak English or Spanish."
The students instead speak Mam or another language that is specific to
their home regions, and Woodason said there is no way they can
participate in U.S. history, biology, or other high school courses
without special preparation.
By law, high school students may remain in school until they are 22
years old. Dalton officials have formed a "Newcomer Academy" at one
school to help deal with the Central American students' challenges. To
qualify, students must prove to be non-proficient in English and three
years behind academically.
Education specialist Robin Hambly in Fairfax, Va., told The Washington Post
"teachers [are] dealing with children not just learning English but
years below expected grade/achievement level." Early this year, her
school district had 5,192 Central American students, up 22 percent since
And many of the students are facing more than just academic challenges, said Hamby.
The youths are escaping harrowing journeys to come north to escape lives
filled with gang violence and poverty in their home countries, and are
"These kids were homesick and heartbroken," said Hamby.
"There's no way a [foreign] child is going to be able to come to school
ready and able to learn if we don’t address some of the other issues
they’re facing,” Debra Duardo, executive director for human services for
the Los Angeles Unified School District, told the Chicago Tribune
But educators are finding that the foreign-born students are, in most
cases, appreciative of their opportunity to learn and find a safe haven
in America's classrooms.
"I haven't learned much here, but know with the school I will learn,"
Marlon, a 16-year-old Honduran who arrived in February, told the
Tribune. The boy's name was withheld because of his age, and he now
lives with relatives in the New Orleans area.
Speaking Spanish, Marlon said that so far, he hasn't "learned much here,
but know with the school I will learn. I think it's good to learn
English here. If the judge allows me to stay, I can get a job if I speak
English, and opportunity."