Tarry for the Nonce

January 10, 2007

What Melting Pot?

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 9:15 am

In America, children are being banned from a school bus for speaking English:

Rachel Armstrong sent her kids to pick up the bus as usual Monday, but after the driver let the kids on, he told them he would not pick them up again. He even said he wouldn’t take them home that afternoon . . .

[T]he district points out, that particular bus route serves one of three language academies. The one at Phalen Lake is for Hmong students learning English.

The academies all have separate bus routes to keep its students together.

The district decided to enforce the separate routes beginning Monday, but it did not tell the Armstrong family.

Now, suppose this situation had been reversed and, for example, the Hmong students were banned from an English-speaking bus, or Spanish-speaking students were banned from an English-speaking bus. The ACLU would be all over it in the space of 24 hours.

But beyond the hypocrisy of the situation, since when is it a good idea to prevent children from interacting with those of a different cultural background? This is America, for crying out loud. What gives?



  1. And yet another reason for a voucher program. In fact, its almost a good reason to home-school and stop paying property tax ;o) But the property tax wouldn’t be optional.

    Comment by Andrew P. — January 10, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  2. To me, this is yet an example of a conservative reaction to an erroneous oversimplification of a given situation.

    They weren’t banned for speaking English, per se, but rather to keep students going to a given set of schools together.

    Comment by Howard R — January 11, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  3. So you’re saying this wasn’t about speaking english, it was about segregation?

    Comment by Andrew P. — January 12, 2007 @ 4:10 am

  4. I think Howard is (accurately) pointing out that the immediate situation dealt with separating students by academy, which makes sense. I admit that it wasn’t the way I understood the article the first time.

    In fairness, though, the article text has been significantly altered. The quotation on my page is a cut-and-paste, and I read it to say that students from the same academy (i.e. on the same bus route) were being forced to use different bus stops to separate them by language.

    Comment by laura — January 12, 2007 @ 7:28 am

  5. The original article is now gone (at least I get a 404), but here’s another blog that quotes more of the article.

    Saying that the Armstrong kids were “kicked off for speaking English” is clearly over-the-top. They were not “kicked off” at all, and they were ineligible because the bus route was for a specific group of language learners to which the Armstrong kids didn’t belong.

    Having said that: I don’t fully understand the concept of “academies” at Phalen, but from context, I gather that they are little more than tracks at the same physical school, designed to provide bil_ngual education for kids with limited English ability. I also assume that most of the kids at this “academy” would be around the same age as the Armstrong kids: 8-10.

    If both of these assumptions are true, then the district is misspending its funds and hurting those same Hmong children. Kids that age have no need for extensive ESL programs, and segregating them into a separate group will only retard their learning of English. Mix them in with English-speaking American kids, and they will speak like natives within a few months, and be overrepresented in Honors English classes in high school.

    My own high school can provide countless examples of this. More than half our students did not speak English at home (me included). We had remediate/ESL programs for new arrivals, but they were never segregated based on the student’s native language. The proportion of non-native-born English speakers in honors and AP English classes was at least equal to general population.

    Granted, we didn’t have the “multiculturalism” police at our doorstep. We were very fortunate that way.

    Comment by Toly — January 25, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  6. Not to beat a dead horse, but I got the impression that the academies were separate schools in the same district, if you will.

    Based on:
    However, the district points out, that particular bus route serves one of three language academies. The one at Phalen Lake is for Hmong students learning English.


    The district also discovered the Armstrongs no longer live in the Phalen Lake School boundary because they moved last year.

    So even though the district apologized, if they want to still go to Phalen, they are going to have to get their own ride.

    Seems like they had one route for all the academies, but now have separate routes and are enforcing those routes….at least, that’s how I interpreted the story details. Of course, since the reporting changed and is no longer on the site, one might think the facts in the case were muddled.

    Comment by Andrew P. — January 29, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

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