With the majority of the nation turning illegals away, a school in Oakland, California is accepting immigrants with open arms. Oakland International High School has nearly 100 illegal immigrants enrolled as students. Although educators in other school districts have complained that the Central and South American aliens are draining the schools resources and have discouraged enrollment, nearly 25% of OIHS’ students are immigrants.
The curriculum is designed to help the students learn English and basic concepts as well as phonics. The school has taken private donations to hire specialist for the immigrants including Lauren Markham, the community school program manager. Ms. Markham is a social worker, legal advocate, and a homeroom teacher.
Many of the students haven’t been in school for years, making simple tasks difficult for them to accomplish. The school is designed to challenge them academically so they can pass several state tests that all seniors are required to pass. Their first year at Oakland International students must take “survival English” that teaches them basic concepts like phonics, days of the week, and how to ask sentences.
Although the system used at Oakland International is designed to give students a solid foundation so they can spend their lives in the United States, Ms. Markham and other educators deal with the minors’ difficult pasts. Nearly every student in the OIHS program has experienced trauma including gang violence and abuse. The students seldom talk about their prior lives, but when the topic arises every child expresses the same fear; please don’t send me back home.
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