Funding Education’s Changing Face
Liz Seymour, Wash. Post, Mar. 5
The small city of Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley is best known as the home of James Madison University. But now its public schools are drawing attention: They have the highest percentage of Virginia students who aren’t fluent in English.
The number of immigrant children rose 829 percent in the last decade, school officials said, because of job opportunities at the city’s poultry farms and in the federal Refugee Resettlement Program office. The enrollment spike has transformed the 4,000-student school system.
In the last five years, the number of teachers of English as a Second Language has tripled. The need for small-group instruction has swallowed up classroom space, requiring 26 trailers. Enrollment in summer school and after-school programs is up sharply to prepare these newcomers to pass the high-stakes Virginia Standards of Learning exams and to meet the academic progress mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
“This poses dramatic [financial] challenges for our schools,” Superintendent Donald J. Ford Jr. said. “It is becoming more and more difficult for the locality to meet our needs.”
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