‘Segregation in Education’

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today the New York Times invites readers to a national conversation about immigration and its consequences, something everybody hides from here in Ireland. The first article, to be published this weekend, will report on a Virginia school district that segregates students who are the children of immigrants, and who don’t speak English well, to make it easier to give them intensive support.

When Fine Gael Education Spokesperson Brian Hayes made a similar suggestion last August he was supported by the secondary teachers union ASTI but others used it as an excuse to jump up and down and brand him a racist. He later issued a statement regretting the use of the term ‘segregation’ and there the debate in Ireland ended.

Except at the school gate of course. With cutbacks now in language support teachers there is growing resentment that it is the English speaking children that will lose out as classes get larger and slower.

Brian insisted he was motivated by concern both for the migrant children who were being “left behind” and for the many parents who were frustrated at the effect the lack of segregation was having on the education of their english speaking children in their preparations for Junior and Leaving Certificate exams. The Government meanwhile is hiding behind three major research studies into the teaching of immigrant children in our schools and as you'd expect these are not due to report anytime soon. Join the NYT debate here.

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