Hispanic Population Growing At Union Public Schools

Wednesday, August 30th 2006, 10:06 am
By: News On 6

New test results highlight a growing population trend in Union Public Schools. For the first time ever, the district has a school on the federal needs improvement list.

Union says only one group of students didn't meet state standards - English language learners. News on 6 education reporter Ashli Sims says it is a group of students that's growing.

A first grade class at Roy Clark Elementary School at 3656 South 103rd East Avenue is counting out the basics. But it’s not as easy as one-two-three, when you consider many of these kids are native Spanish speakers. “It is it’s very tough for them and they have a long road ahead of them." Josie Carreno's class is part of Roy Clark Elementary School's newcomer program for English-language learners.

Carreno says she can really relate, because she used to be exactly, where her students are sitting. “When I did attend Roy Clark, I was like my students I didn’t, I didn’t know very much English." But things are a lot different since the days when Carreno, her brother and her cousin were the only Spanish speaking kids at school.

In 2000-01 Union Public Schools had about 900 Hispanic students. By 2005-2006, that number had doubled to more than 1,900, about 14 percent of the student population.

Roy Clark's Hispanic and Latino students make up almost half of the student body. Immigration has become a hot button political topic and some argue programs like this are a drain on resources and could benefit people who aren't coming to this country legally.

But teachers say it’s simply a matter of education. Roy Clark principal Theresa Kiger: "I think that our children all children are equal. All of them need to be given the opportunity and they came to America for a reason and that is to better themselves and their families.”

Josie Carreno: "And I think a lot of our families want that. They don’t want to just come here and get handouts and just do what it takes to get by. They're here to give their children a better future and have a better life for their family."