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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Columns

Texas education system has failed Hispanic children


A trail of local middle school students swarmed the counter of Shasta’s Cones & More last week, a few repeatedly saying “vanilla,” while pointing at the coconut ice cream.

Many of them read the labels but could not clarify which flavor they wanted, and from behind the counter, I was startled when it took them several seconds to read the flavor “Butter Pecan.”

These 12 and 13-year-old children were barely capable of reading English.

The students were from Hartman Middle School. According to the Texas Tribune, it’s segregated with a 76.1 percent Hispanic population and 22.4 percent African American population, and 20.2 percent of their 1,357 students have “limited English proficiency.”

Houston Independent School District, the district in which Hartman is located, has an even higher rate at 30.3 percent. Of HISD’s 215,627 students, 65,334 have limited English proficiency. While this number also includes 106,727 students in elementary schools, where these students still have more than half a decade to learn English, the problem persists at the high school level, too. 

At Austin High School, 18.6 percent of students have limited English proficiency. At Davis High School, 14 percent.

People with limited English-speaking capabilities are at an obvious disadvantage in U.S. society. While the number of Spanish speakers had dramatically increased to 37 million in 2013, 88 percent of U.S. nationals do not speak Spanish. That’s 248.9 million people.

In other words, those who are not English proficient cannot effectively communicate with 88 percent of the population. This drastically limits the job opportunities and upward mobility of Spanish-only speakers. 

If a student graduates from high school without the ability to speak to a majority of the population, the education system has failed that student and these kids haven’t been put in a position where they can most likely succeed.

According to HISD’s facts and figures, 49 percent of their students passed the English I STAAR test, and 53 percent passed the English II test (2015-2016 academic year). However, 86 percent passed the U.S. History STAAR test, 84 percent passed the Biology test and 72 percent passed the Algebra I test.

That’s a 38 percent difference in the passing rates from English I to Algebra I, 50 percent between English I and Biology, and 27 percent between English I and U.S. History.

On average, that’s a 38.33 percent difference between the English I tests and non-language tests.

These kids understand the material; the test scores prove that. But they have not been given the proper tools to exercise their intelligence. The possibility of a student becoming a biologist or mathematician in the United States hinges on their English capability.

The Texas Tribune states HISD’s accountability rating has “met standard.” If HISD has met the standard when 51 percent of their students fail the English I STAAR test, there’s something severely wrong with the education system — it’s failed.

Sports editor Leonard D. Gibson III is a sophomore English major and can be reached at [email protected]

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  • David

    It’s supposed to fail. The ‘changes’ that have been made to the system over the last 25+ years are intended to accomplish that very thing. Now as it is weaker and less popular it is easy for the people who want to rid our state of public school to offer up ‘alternatives’ to accelerate the demise of ‘public’ school.

  • Opa

    Exactly what you would expect when the majority are undocumented (illegal aliens) and English is not the preferred language spoken at home. All as a result of court rulings that violate the Constitution by requiring every child to be educated without checking status.

  • Mohammed bin Zayed Jones

    Immersion in the English language is the solution to limited English proficiency.

    Those kids are coddled so much that they run the asylum in many cases. Blacks and Hispanics are purposely being kept stupid … to create a continuing dependence on … Democrats, who cater to those they’ve purposely keep down as they grow into adult social sponges.

    The NEA .. essentially a far-left wing of the Democrat Party is playing their part in keeping students dumb, and those who think they are smart … have no business at universities.

    Tough Love is needed and lots of it. Coddling these kids creates many Snowflakes that we see at UH. They are Kids who were always reinforced with the view that they were always right, and now as so-called Adults, they act like kids and not adults.

    • demonicbunny

      So wouldn’t seeking higher education make them less dumb and break the cycle?

      • Mohammed bin Zayed Jones

        They are intentionally kept stupid … what part of the process do you not get.

        • demonicbunny

          The part where you said they go to pursue higher education in a four year school and get educated but somehow manage to be troubled by that.

  • Just say MEXICAN

    didn’t realize we owed so much to Mexicans, OH WAIT WE DON’T

    • demonicbunny

      Just because they are Hispanic it doesn’t mean that many of them are not citizens. As citizens and as a body compromising a majority in that school, it makes plenty of sense to deliver.

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