Plan for English language learner schools causes conflict in Pr. George’s County

IMMIGRATION

A plan to open two new high school programs for immigrants and English-language learners in Prince George’s County has created a rift between members of the African American and Hispanic communities, with opponents of the proposal questioning the school district’s decision to use its limited resources to benefit one group of students over the other.

The county’s chapter of the NAACP has mounted strong opposition to schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell’s plan to open two schools next year for 800 English-language learners who are struggling academically.

The debate surrounding the new schools is new evidence of rising tensions between the Maryland county’s African Americans, who make up 65 percent of the Prince George’s population, and Hispanics, who make up almost 15 percent of the county’s population and 26 percent of the school population. The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing minority group in the county.

“This whole thing is designed to change the school system from what we know today,” said Bob Ross, president of the county’s NAACP chapter. “They are talking about the needs of the newcomers and putting them ahead of the needs of those who are already here.”

Del. Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) said Ross’s words are “very dangerous” and are creating division at a time when African Americans and Hispanics need to work together.

 “Our issues are the same,” she said. “We are all people of color.”

The Prince George’s school system entered into an agreement with the International Network for Public Schools and CASA of Maryland earlier this year to open one school in the Langley Park area and another as a school-within-a-school program at Largo High School.

>>> Read more Washington Post

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