Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Schools Extend Christmas Break Due to Hispanic Immigrants

(Reuters) -- A Southern California school district where 92 percent of the students are Latino has extended its winter break an extra week, in part to give immigrant families time to travel home to Mexico and Central America for Christmas.

Officials in Santa Ana, a working-class city 40 miles south of Los Angeles that has long been a magnet for immigrants, say they decided to lengthen the school holiday after finding that many students were absent anyway.

I support this.

Here in California, at least, school districts get money from the state based on ADA--average daily attendance. If students are absent, the school district doesn't get any money for them. Excused, unexcused, it doesn't matter--not at school, no money.

In a school district where an overwhelming percentage of students are Hispanic, it only seems logical to accomodate a cultural habit (going "home" to visit family for Christmas) that's well known, predictable, and "accomodatable". So they go to school an extra week in June instead of in January--no harm done.

If the school district were 10% Hispanic and did this, perhaps I'd have a different view. I myself certainly wouldn't want to go to school an extra week in June, especially here in the exceedingly warm Central Valley of California. But in an overwhelmingly Hispanic area, and in an area where June temperatures aren't stifling, I see this extra week of vacation as a big plus. Here's an area where lefties and righties should both agree: the home culture is validated at no cost to educational opportunities.

When I was a student, we went to school Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. Honestly, that doesn't seem to pass the common sense test. So many people missed those two days due to "extended vacations" that teachers didn't usually plan meaningful instruction on those two days. In the district in which I teach, we get that entire week off--because so many people would take the whole week off anyway, and the school district would take a financial hit. The district accomodated the families, and gets more money in the process (or, more accurately, loses less money). The school district in Santa Ana has made a similar calculation, one I think is smart.


Anonymous said...

It may be economically "right", but I would question why we are bowing to cultural ties of another country? As one of the populations closely watched for achievement, I don't think moving kids around every semester, which happens all too often in the Hispanic community, is a good idea. And quite often, going home for Christmas is more of a move than a visit. That is certainly their perogative, but we don't allow French students to travel an inordinate amount of time to visit the Louvre or Italian student to visit Rome or Canadian students to visit Quebec. If they miss days, then they do so at their own academic peril. If their parents truly are interested in education, then they will make sure the children are in class. I don't think it serves anyone to only bow down to the travel plans of one group. If you do that, then I think I should be able to take my kids skiing during February without anyone questioning the missing days. School schedules are set far in advance and barring non-custodial parents having kids on holidays, most people are able to avoid schedule conflicts. What I find highly amusing about this situation is that I am 99% sure that if a kid from the same family was in a basketball, soccer or football tournament or playoff, the trip would probably be postponed. If they can delay for those things, they can wait a few days to travel.

Darren said...

While I recognize and understand this viewpoint, in this particular situation the lengthening of the school day seems reasonable. 92% of the students are Hispanic--this is something the school can do that benefits the students but doesn't cost the school district anything. Goodwill towards the district, students get to visit with family, students get a full academic year--what's not to like?

And in my district? We *do* get a ski week in February. Seriously =)

Anonymous said...

January 1st or January 7th, it won't matter when these 'immigrants' travel back to America from their 'homelands' if they don't have their required passports.
2007 is the beginning of the crackdown on traveling from country to country without one. No exceptions!
Although this is being downplayed, there will, no doubt, be trouble at the border when hundreds, if not thousands of 'immigrants' are detained from entering North Mexico, for lack of proper documentation.
Let's hope that they are prepared to make their' homelands' their homes again.

Coach Brown said...

Only reason it is wise is because funding is based on ADA.

Otherwise, it is crap. Hey, I have quite a bit of students that leave in January for a vacation on the Big Island. Should we make a day off so we don't lose ADA? Please.

It is another example of allowing a culture to come in and rearrange what works. The culture of education coming from Mexico doesn't work, while the American culture of Education (regardless of test scores) has a history of being successful. Yet we are going to accept this as culturally acceptable? This isn't tolerance, this is crap.

And I'm revoking your Pat Buchanon Club membership :)

Darren said...

If I *had* a Pat Buchanan Club card, I'd have shredded it long ago!

The reason I support this is because of the overwhelming Hispanic population (92%) in that district. I don't see how it hurts anything to do what Santa Ana did.

Anonymous said...

My only concern would the potential snowball effect. If the logic of the parents was missing one week of school is not so bad then instead of taking a 2 week vacaction would they start taking a 3 week vacation? The kids would still only miss one week of school but could be in Mexico longer.

Anonymous said...

What is funny is that if the school was a private company, this would be a no-brainer. Of *course* you move a week around to accomodate 92% of your customers. That this can be seen as some sort of power struggle or "caving in" is awfully amusing.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

What Santa Ana Did? You mean like try to lose his commander's coat and sneak off as an average soldier at San Jacinto? Frankly, that sounds like capitulation to me. Taken in its core form that means lopping off the head of the beast. I still contend that IF Hispanic parents are as gungho about their children's education as the more liberal media want us to believe, that they would manage to arrange their travel plans around the school calendar. We do it here for every other contingency, why are they the only group to get a free pass? And that's the crux of the issue-if you move ANYWHERE even if it's from Buffalo to Phoenix, you don't come in with the broadbased assumption that everyone is going to accommodate YOUR needs. And yet this by and large is what the Hispanic community is doing. They want us to ignore standing laws and codes while at the same time providing them with amenities that the plutocracy in Mexico do not offer. I am not much of a revolutionary, and it worries me how many Latino nations are following Venzuela's lead, but Mexico is ripe for revolution and our willingness to take steam off of them. That shouldn't be our function and I am tired of having one minority group secure all the attention when we have kids from all over the world here LEGALLY that need aid.

Anonymous said...

These folks take off anytime they feel like it. There are more 'dying grandmothers' in Mexico than anywhere else in the world.
At least that is the excuse given for why they have been out of school for a month or more...
Most of the students who are taken to Mexico and stay are undocumented/illegal kids. They have no social security numbers and their parents never come to school for conferences. They can't speak English although they have been living here for decades. Their kids don't want to learn to improve their English (since they themselves don't even speak decent Spanish AND are anchor babies) which is why they make no effort to
EVER exit the ELL programs, i.e., Mexican satellite communities.
I think it's crap!
I hope they forget to take their fake passports to Mexico with them when they leave before New Years...

Anonymous said...

In Santa Ana, it's illegal to be legal.

Darren said...

Santa Ana, CA, EllenK, not General Santa Anna!

My own school district has adjusted the schedule to accomodate the travel patterns of our (mostly white) student body. We now get the entire week of Thanksgiving off, and between the President's holidays in February we instead take off an entire week, which I call Ski Week. I worked in another district that gave the week before Easter off for Spring Break, and the day after Easter was off as well for a travel day.

With these simple accomodations, students can maximize both time with families over the holidays as well as time in school.

Anonymous said...

Well, school districts that allow illegal aliens to attend should lose closed.

Darren said...

The case isn't closed at all. School districts have no option in the matter.