Local Demographics

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Our local paper, The Courier News, is publishing a week long report focused on demographics and test scores in education. Sunday’s paper gave a breakdown of elementary schools in Elgin and District U46.

My son is fast approaching two, but still years away from school. However, I am always interested in anything to do with our local community. My wife and I moved to Elgin in order to live in a more diverse context, so we (and our children) could have a broader perspective on life.The people moving out of the house we bought were doing so in part because of the growing number of Hispanic and low income families in our neighborhood. Yes… white flight. Yuk.

Well, the newest report confirms that our area is diverse! The report details that of elementary students who attend a few blocks from us (Highland School) 70.8% of qualify for free or reduced lunches. That means their combined family income is less that $34k annually. It also detailed that 68.2% of these students are non-native english speaking. That means we (I) better start learning spanish!

The Courier’s report focuses on how income levels and language barriers (especially spanish) are directly correlated with lower test scores. That seems like an obvious connection… but what are we doing about it? Are we working toward teaching students english? Maybe, but not hard enough.

We are hoping to help be a part of the solution in some way. I am a proponent that students should learn both english and spanish right away. One of the schools on the east side of Elgin is doing just that, and trying to mix classes with 50% of students whose native language is english. Pretty cool.

Dare I say it… could we offer testing in spanish and english? I wonder if this could be a helpful solution, at least for primary grades as they are still learning english. Then, I think we should also begin to test the all of the students in spanish when they get into middle and high school. Conservatives would have a fit over this, huh?

This whitey and his family are staying put, and trying to learn from those who are different in background, income status, color and language. I think the best attitude is to be humble and realize that those who are different from us have a lot to teach us.

“The kingdom belongs to the least of these…” –Jesus

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