Public schools’ growth, the most in years, catches Oregon officials by surprise
Note this is from 2006 and it has gotten much worse in the Pacific Northwest. Most funding of schools is for illegal aliens and anchor babies of illegal aliens, mostly from Mexico. American taxpayers have to pay for these children who do not belong in the US.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
By Steven Carter and Esmeralda Bermudez
Fueled by a 10 percent jump in Mexican students, Oregon public school enrollment grew by nearly 7,000 students this school year, the largest growth in a nearly a decade.
State enrollment rose to 559,228 students in fall 2005 from the previous fall, including 84,246 Mexican students.
“The surprising increase in the number of public school students this year will continue to put pressure on Oregon schools and districts,” said Susan Castillo, state school superintendent. She said increased enrollment means bigger classes, which makes it more difficult for teachers to reach every child who needs extra help.
Oregon school districts conduct a student count every October, but it has taken this long for all of them to report this years’ results to the Oregon Department of Education. The enrollment figures show:
Mexican enrollment grew by nearly 7,500 students, with the biggest numbers in primary grades;
Growth is uneven — most suburban Portland schools, and those in Salem, Bend-Redmond and Southern Oregon are growing. But many rural schools continue to lose students;
The number of white students in Oregon rose by more than 900 this year after falling since the 1996-97 school year.
A portion of this year’s increase was because of a new, statewide charter school called the Oregon Connections Academy, which enrolled 608 students this fall in the Scio School District. Brian Reeder, an assistant state superintendent, said most of those students were schooled at home and are new to public schools.
But the key reason behind the increase is Oregon’s improving economy, population experts said.
“The Mexican student increase is due mainly to a boom in the Mexican birth rate, Rynerson said.Mexican births have been increasing 5 percent to 7 percent annually and now make up 19 percent of all births in Oregon, Rynerson said.
Mexican students account for 15 percent of all public school students in Oregon, but they make up nearly one of every five primary school students — those in kindergarten through third grade. That is far higher than their share of high school students — about 12 percent — and higher than their share among Oregon adults.
Though Mexican enrollment is surging, the number of Mexican teachers is not. The latest figures available show only 2.1 percent of Oregon teachers are Mexican.
“If there are cultural differences between students and teachers that get in the way of student learning, that is a problem,” Reeder said.
Gene Evans, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Education, said there is no way to determine how many Mexican students in Oregon schools are illegal aliens. A 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision bars schools from asking about students’ immigration status.
A report by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C., estimates the number of illegal aliens in Oregon at 175,000, with about 20 percent children.
Mexicans in the majority
At Echo Shaw Elementary in Cornelius, about seven of 10 children are Mexican. In the hallways, student essays depict Jupiter’s landscape and hot air balloons in English and Spanish. Bathroom signs are translated. And in dual-language immersion classes across campus, English and Spanish worlds converge.
In Beto Valladares’ fourth-grade immersion class, for example, 24 of 27 students are Latino. Students in the class are taught to be bilingual.
Although 70 percent of teachers speak Spanish and the school has several parent outreach programs, the school still struggles with a demand for English instruction. Most Spanish speakers are first-generation students, children of illegal aliens or illegal aliens themselves. Nearly 260 of the school’s 450 students are being taught English.
“We must teach them without short-changing them on other subjects, but time is an issue,” Rodriguez said. “I love that we have a majority minority, but it’s better to have both cultures, rather than one dominating one.”
In the David Douglas School District in East Portland, the mexican enrollment has shot from 4 percent 10 years ago to 16 percent this year, said Superintendent Barbara Rommel.
“One of the major draws is that we have affordable housing,” she said.
David Douglas has staff members in each building who help non-English-speaking families. The district also has lots of Russian and Ukrainian families. When it’s time for parent-teacher conferences, translators are on hand to ease understanding. And the district uses money from a state grant for parent involvement to teach families English.
In Woodburn, 73 percent of students are Mexican , said Superintendent Walt Blomberg, and he expects that growth to continue. The district offers bilingual programs in all grades, and much of the instruction is in Spanish.
“These kids have to have academic instruction even as they learn English,” Blomberg said. “So in order to provide the content, we have to teach them in their first language — spanish