12.15.2005

Bigotry raises its ugly head at Stanley elementary

Trouble at Stanley Elementary in Waltham. Seems that a few Stanley parents are angry the new principal, Pilar Shepard-Cabrera, who they feel favors Spanish-speaking parents and students, according to this Daily News Tribune article by Carrie Simmons. From the article:
Tensions between parents and the principal erupted after an anonymous e-mail was sent to more than 100 teachers and parents from the address "No.Spanish.at.Stanley@gmail.com."

The author of the e-mail typedover a letter sent to the district’s teachers by the superintendent and Laurie Zucker-Conde, director of English language learner and foreign language programs, offering free Spanish conversational classes for elementary teachers and English as a second language classes for parents.

The [text] superimposed over the letter stated, "Teach the teachers Spanish? Using MY tax money? What’s next, after our American teachers will be fluent in Spanish...will you force Spanish classes on our children as well??...STOP being politically correct on this issue!! This is America, and in America we speak ENGLISH!!!"
Of course, not everyone thinks this, but I have to note that this type of attitude is not isolated: the Daily News Tribune article also noted more than one person brought up similar complaints at Tuesday's meeting for Stanley parents and teachers, and Waltham school administrators.

It's a pity that these narrow-minded attitudes exist among some parents in Waltham. The goal of our school administrators should be to involve parents of all backgrounds, for the sake of school communities and educational quality. Why does the person behind No.Spanish.at.Stanley@gmail.com think that having teachers who can't communicate on even a basic level with parents and some students is a good thing? Does he or she understand that Spanish-speaking parents have just as much a right to talk with their childrens' teachers and administrators as anyone else, and respond to their concerns? Does he or she realize that everyone's children are currently growing up in a multicultural city, and need to have a better understanding of these differences as they make friends, join sports teams, and share classrooms with each other?

Certainly, the new principal needs to improve communication with parents, which is another issue brought up by many parents at the meeting. However, in Borderline's opinion, she is absolutely right to make an effort to reach out in different ways to the Spanish-speaking community, which the article says forms 40% of the student population at Stanley.

This effort should be duplicated at other Waltham schools where there is a large community of non-English-speaking immigrants and their children. I attended a planning meeting at Whittemore elementary school earlier this year, and was struck not only by the absense of Spanish-speaking parents, but also materials in Spanish to announce the meeting or explain the issues that were being discussed. Certainly, there are immigrant parents who didn't want to come -- a comment to Borderline's post indicated that attempts had been made by the Whittemore PTA to reach out, but foreign-born parents did not respond in significant numbers.

Still, I think for the planning meeting that Borderline attended, Whittemore school administrators didn't do enough to reach out, and let immigrant parents understand the major development that's coming down the pike.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many years ago while writing a story about Cronin's Landing and the then pending resurrection of Moody Street, I had a chance to interview then-Mayor Stanley about the gentrification of the neighborhood.

He told me that he did, in fact, feel bad that it may push out the immigrant families living in areas nera Crescent Street, but his next line was more telling:

"We're just trying to make our city better." It made me wonder who this elected official meant by "we."

8:32 AM  

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