I want to go back to Kindergarten!

I do. And it’s not just because of the naps, recess, and finger paint — though those elements are rather attractive.

According to US Census data (as reported in an article by USA Today), the number of minority students enrolled in kindergarten in the States this fall is, by percentage, higher than in 2000. The group of students, by ethnicity in a very general grouping, that has grown most rapidly are Hispanic. Asian students have also increased in percentage, but only slightly. African-American students are occupying a smaller percentage of seats in the classroom along with Caucasian students who still dominate numerically at 53% of all 5-year-olds.

Besides reporting the facts, the article points out that the increasing challenge for schools is to know what it best for those students who come from homes where English is not the first language — perhaps where English is not spoken at all. This is a complicated issue because implementation of the best solutions could be costly, but there are good solutions.

I read the article and thought of the incredible benefit it is for kids who are growing up today in the communities which reflect this diversity. Far too much of my school context had me surrounded with a far more limited diversity. We were aware of some difference because last names like Smith and Rudzynski and Jensen and Maroncelli gave some clue.

I made a mistake when I read the article. I was feeling happy about these opportunities for kids to grow up more connected to greater diversity and feeling a bit hopeful that we can figure out how to make the education thing work. Then I did it.  I clicked on the link that opened up the “Comments” on the story. People had turned this story into a platform to rant about immigration laws. I should have seen it coming. I should have walked away, but I didn’t. I read. And what I read broke my heart. And raised my blood pressure.

So let me say this and then I’ll be done (at least for this morning): the complexities around the issue of immigration reform and the reality that thousands of undocumented adults and children do live within the boarders of this country is not as clear as some people seem to think it is.

If you get an urge to make comments on this blog about the issue, I’ll welcome a discussion. I have a lot to learn and discussion can be a great way to do some of that learning.

If, however, you are looking for a place to spew ugliness, to speak disparagingly, to blame everything on a politician or any other single person/event/ideal, I’ll likely “unapprove” your comment. I just thought you needed to know that before you start typing.

4 thoughts on “I want to go back to Kindergarten!

  1. Krista says:

    I have 2 classes this year and in both of them combined (about 45 students total) I think I only have 6 kids that can speak English. I love all of my kids! They are super cute, full of energy, and VERY eager to learn!

  2. Nancy Schneider says:

    Good post, Ruth. People need to reclaim their hearts and minds on this issue. So, so many layers. Ellen just finished a good book related to understanding one aspect of immigration, “The Tortilla Curtain” by T.C. Boyle. Have you heard of it?

  3. Becky says:

    One of the reasons I love living in Des Moines in the diversity of the people. When Libby went to Kindergarten she came home after a week and asked “Mom, why are some of my friends brown?” I am so glad she has had this diversity in her life, she is a much more rounded person with this expirence then I could have done on my own.

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