Sunday, January 23, 2005

Former Teacher Says Illegal Alien Influx Hurting U.S. Schools

By Jim Brown
(AgapePress) - An education columnist and retired school teacher says massive illegal immigration, in particular from Mexico, poses complex problems for public education systems across the United States.

Tom Shuford worked as an elementary school resource teacher in Long Island, New York, for 25 years, and today he serves as a columnist for Lately, the watchdog has been calling attention to a growing problem: classrooms in many areas, overcrowded with students who are high-need due to their low English proficiency.

Shuford says surging illegal immigration in southern and western states has led to many U.S. school districts having to struggle to find classroom space to accommodate children for whom English is a second language. "Children are coming in with weak English backgrounds," he says, "and they're just much needier."

According to the columnist, many within public education have been afraid to confront Washing's "inept leadership" on the illegal immigration issue. "In education, we do not speak up," he says, but instead, tend to "go with whatever happens. There's kind of a -- I hate to use the overworked term -- 'political correctness.' We just don't respond to things like that that are sensitive, and I think we have to explore these issues."

But Shuford believes if illegal immigration is not curbed, American children and families will continue to pay the price for the Mexican government's failure to reform its justice system, its economy, and its schools. He says it is time for reform advocates and concerned people in public education to speak out against efforts by President Bush to allow "guest workers" and other criminal aliens to keep pouring across the U.S.-Mexican border.

"Americans have to pay attention to this," the former elementary teacher says, "because the more you look at it, the more worrisome it becomes. This may be the greatest challenge we face as a nation -- more so than even the people who gave us 9/11. This is a different kind of challenge, and it's a complex challenge, and we have to pay attention."

Illegal immigration confronts American schools with several challenges, Shuford contends. Among these, he says, is the challenge of providing a solid academic experience for children who are ready for a rigorous curriculum, without forcing their families to seek private schools or homes in "good zip codes," all because their local school systems are busy addressing language-barrier issues for the children of illegal aliens.

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