Xenophobia and racism as NY Sun hack attacks dual language school

News & Politics
Editor's note: This originally appeared on EdWize, the New York City Teacher's Union blog.

New York City is a rich panoply of peoples from the far corners of the world. Every few generations we "repopulate" our city with immigrants, dynamic folk seeking their American dream.

Teaching in New York today is akin to teaching one's grandparents. Immigrants fleeing poverty and/or oppression who, for the most part, never want to return to their home countries, who see public schools as the avenue for themselves and their children.

Schools have scrambled to keep up with our changing student population.

Newcomers High School, the International High Schools, Manhattan Comprehensive Day and Night High School are glittering examples of schools that serve our newest Americans.

One of the new schools scheduled to open in September is the Khalil Gibran High School, a dual language Arabic-English school that is named after a Lebanese-American Christian poet. The school leader, Debbie Almontassar is a longtime NYC teacher and staff developer in District 15 (Brooklyn).

A columnist in the NY Sun, Alicia Colon has launched a scurrilous attack on the school - calling it a "madrassa" and making comparisons with the killing of a Dutch politician by a Muslim extremist.

It has become commonplace in our schools to see teachers and students wearing head scarves, yarmulkes and kufi … race, religion and ethnic background only adds to the "soup" that is New York.

In addition to the NYS High School diploma requirement of forty-four credits and five Regents exams schools may chose to have students read the classics, or internships in their communites or with potential employers. Other schools are Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools - student must complete and additional 6-10 credits as well as complete externships in their specialty.

Dual language schools, whether Mandarin or Spanish or whatever language will only help our children in this rapidly globalizing world.

To stigmatize an Arabic-English dual language school as a breeding place for terrorists is anathama. It evokes shameful past chapters in our nation's history which all decent Americans hope we will never see again.

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