Overwhelmed Wichita Schools Struggle to Educate Refugees

Published on August 21st, 2015

By Joe Guzzardi
August 21, 2015

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas. Once known as Cowtown because it was a key city on cattle drives north from Texas to access the railroads, Wichita soon become famous for its role as a hub in U.S. aircraft production. Today, the “Air Capital of the World” is headquarters for Beechcraft, Cessna and Learjet.
But in recent years, Wichita has gradually become newsworthy for its school district which, despite its relatively small enrollment, struggles to educate students that speak 81 languages, and is today one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse K-12 systems. About 9,400, or 18 percent, of the district’s population come from different nations, speak limited if any English, and qualify for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Among the languages most frequently heard in the school’s hallways are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Swahili and Urdu.
Because of an executive order signed by President Clinton, school districts are mandated to provide translators for each language, which presents quite a challenge in red state Kansas to find Bengali and Swahili teaching aides to assist the beleaguered instructors. Even though they have had no say in the huge immigration influx, taxpayers must fund whatever expenses are incurred – and not just for education. When the refugees are settled, they’ll qualify for subsidized housing and most welfare benefits, including food stamps and cash payouts.
The sudden refugee surge is more than Wichita or any other city can manage. Wichita’s neighboring cities are overwhelmed too. Other Kansas municipalities have applied to the Department of Education’s State Financial Council for more than $15 million in emergency funding. Jim Freeman, Wichita Public School’s chief financial officer, wrote the council that refugees have “huge learning gaps” and arrive with a host of “emotional handicaps, behavioral issues which impact learning, participation, and performance in class.” According to Freeman, the refugee high school students have a kindergartener’s academic level. Included in the new students’ “gaps” are a complete unfamiliarity with crayons, notebooks and even pencils.
Teachers who never imagined that they would be responsible for educating the world’s students and boosting their limited skill sets are leaving Kansas in droves. Nearly 4,000 have retired, left Kansas to take teaching jobs in other states or shifted professions. The exodus of dedicated, experienced teachers represents another setback for citizens’ children who must also cope with the classroom chaos that the refugees have created. An overflow of non-English speaking students that have other transitional challenges makes for an unhealthy learning environment for American kids.
The Obama administration is committed to forcing more diversity on unsuspecting communities. Obama’s bureaucrats describe the refugee resettlement process as “seeding,” which translates to filling historically white cities with foreign-born nationals, many from backward societies.
Good luck to Kansas; once refugee resettlement begins, it never ends. Look, for example, at Minnesota. Since 2005, more than 10,000 Somalis have been placed in 60 Minnesota cities, including St. Cloud, the site of a heated March protest wherein Muslim students claimed discrimination.
Two decades ago, the United Nations told Congress that the U.S. accepts too many refugees, thereby undermining the U.N. mission to ultimately repatriate refugees. Obama has rejected the U.N.’s goal, and is determined to transform America.
The U.S. admits more refugees than any nation. In 2013, refugee resettlement increased 25 percent over the previous year and reached 93,000. But accepting fewer exiles and fewer overall legal immigrants would enable the U.S. to better care for its fair share of legitimate refugees, not just those arriving as part of a political agenda.

Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact him at [email protected]


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