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Connecticut Public School District Blazes Trail for Integrating Refugees

Connecticut Public School District Blazes Trail for Integrating Refugees

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is one of the few governors that despite recent terror attacks abroad will welcome Syrian refugees into the state should they reach the U.S.

In order to make this possible, one school district in the state has had to step up to help a proposed 80 possible Syrian families integrate their children into the state’s public school system.

Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Beth-Schiavino-Narvaez announced in late November the appointment of a committee including a combination of public school staff and Catholic Charities of Hartford to "coordinate assistance for Syrian refugee families to enroll their children in Hartford Public Schools,” according to WTNH.

"This staff will include various team members will all skill levels to help the refugees integrate, including English language acquisition specialists and those who specialize in support services for the families.”

According to The Seventy-Four, the committee is now dealing with getting the answers to questions such as whether hiring more teachers with bilingual skills is necessary and if a school in the district with a higher Muslim population would be best as a go-to for refugee children settling in.

Additionally, “[a]n influx of new students could cause a ripple in busing plans for the roughly 21,000-student district,” and “Hartford Public Schools’ managers are also preparing to find additional money to address students’ other academic needs that could arise,” The Seventy-Four said.

Though Hartford officials are unsure when the 80 Syrian families they agreed to help will arrive, the district has already had success integrating refugees into its system in the past.

Hartford school placement officers have been busy in the past helping refugee students be assigned to the school that best fits his or her needs based on location and curriculum, The Seventy-Four said; the choice district has many options with specialized curriculums available to students.

In Bulkeley High School, the school has had great success so far accepting and integrating Burmese refugee students, most primarily from "Karen, a Southeast Asian ethnic subgroup with its own languages and culture.”

"In some ways, Bulkeley High School is a prime candidate for an incoming refugee population. It’s one of the last of the school district’s comprehensive high schools, where students can choose to specialize in a humanities or teacher preparation track during their last two years,” the article said.

As mentioned before, the district isn’t entirely sure when the proposed 80 Syrian families will arrive; the district agreed to accept them a week before the Paris terror attacks that left over a hundred dead abroad.

But if and when the proposed Syrian refugee families do arrive, Hartford Public Schools is working around-the-clock to ensure their children have the same opportunity to a bright future as the students who have been born and raised here.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

1/04/2016

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