Dominican Students in NYC public schools

Tom F.

Bronze
Jan 1, 2002
619
23
38
I have worked a few decades in many different public high schools in NYC and thousands of Dominican students. Every school I have been in there has been from a vast majority of Dominican born/family to a small contingent. I can not tell you how many times a distant cousin of my wife or some connection to SFM ends up in a school or a class of mine. This year I am being rotated to a new school every week and this week I am on the upper East Side, the really nice part of NYC. An entirely different environment than I am accustomed. Because I am in the library managing study halls and covering classes, I get a chance to interact with the students. It is rare that there are "white" students in the schools I have been in, but this school is listed as 60% white. I found out many are European or Brazilians, and from well off families or supers in their buildings. A significant number of Asian students are also there. There are a small number of students of color and when I inquired and most students who claimed Dominican heritage were mixed with Puerto Rican, "white", "Black" and one South Korean. One girl said she lived in Las Terrenas from 4 years old to 10. European mother, I think Swedish and African American dad. This was the first time a kid from Las Terrenas was in my class.
 

La Rubia

Bronze
Jan 1, 2010
1,336
28
0
I've always wondered how those that go from the campo (and the campo level of education they get) make it when they get to NYC. Just the fact that they have to go every day ALL day must be a shock. Do they have transition programs? Bilingual?

I've thought it would be interesting to to teach there a year to find out, but I may not have what it takes to make it in the big apple. My hats off to you if you've made a living of it.
 

Berzin

Banned
Nov 17, 2004
5,898
549
113
From what I've seen, a Dominican student fresh off the island gets thrown in the deep end and they either sink or swim, meaning if they do well that's great. If not, they'll still get passed.

If they get left back all they have to do is go to summer school. Whether they do well or not, as long as they show up every day they will then get passed on to the next grade that coming September.

There is no "immersion" program anymore. Bi-lingual is basically taught in English, and I've seen students totally lost for a year at the very least. What makes it worse is when you see the tigueraje in their homes when their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles show up for meetings. There is usually no one at home to either help them with their homework or at least provide an atmosphere where the kid can study in peace.

Many Latino parents from the lower socio-economic scale expect a lot from their children, but they have no concept on what it takes to help them achieve. They don't understand that if you want to raise a doctor or a lawyer your home cannot have the ambiance of a colmado. Many uneducated Latinos think a high school diploma for their kids is just great, and that passing one's classes is good enough. Passing and excelling are what makes the difference, and many just don't get it.

Then you have the ones that never leave the bi-lingual program and after years and years still talk like tigueres from a Dominican barrio. This again speaks to what goes on in the home. I'm amazed at the ones that do well, but you can tell from the home life who will make it and who will wind up underachieving.
 
Last edited:

Tom F.

Bronze
Jan 1, 2002
619
23
38
Bilingual programs have been decimated in NYC with the Guilani/Bloomberg decimation of the school system. At the high school level there are a large percentage of the English dominant kids who remain as ELLs (English Language Learners) and if the school has a bilingual program (George Washington has four schools and I know one still has a bilingual program) which the students receive their Math, Science and Social Studies classes primarily in Spanish. I have heard students are supposed to be classified under 3 levels and various combinations of Spanish/English are supposed to be used. This never actually happens. With the break-up of the bigger schools into 4-6 schools in the same building, they do not have to accept ELL's for the first three years and then an ESL (English as a Second Language program is mandated). This is basically a double period English class and an additional ESL class. The subject classes are all in English. There are usually Spanish speaking staff in most schools who the students talk to and they are paired up in class.

The students "right off the boat", have a difficult time. The schools available to them are some of the worst learning environments left in the city. There is Geogorio Luperon and a few International schools which are nice places and cater to their needs. I have seen students and Washington Irving and Bread and Roses get put into incredibly poor environments.

The successful students tend to come from families who were able to send their kids to colegios. There are the occasional campo or barrio kid who comes in at 5-6th grade level and if they work very hard, can achieve high school level reading and writing in Spanish. It does not happen often, but I have seen it. The problem is, they want us to also achieve high school levels in English also. The kids who come into the NYC system at grade level of reading and math in Spanish, can transition to 100% English is usually 2-3 years. The kids used to stay in the program primarily because the students were better behaved and their friends were all in the same classes. Like I said before, most of these programs are gone now.
 

bob saunders

Platinum
Jan 1, 2002
28,572
2,153
113
dr1.com
Bilingual programs have been decimated in NYC with the Guilani/Bloomberg decimation of the school system. At the high school level there are a large percentage of the English dominant kids who remain as ELLs (English Language Learners) and if the school has a bilingual program (George Washington has four schools and I know one still has a bilingual program) which the students receive their Math, Science and Social Studies classes primarily in Spanish. I have heard students are supposed to be classified under 3 levels and various combinations of Spanish/English are supposed to be used. This never actually happens. With the break-up of the bigger schools into 4-6 schools in the same building, they do not have to accept ELL's for the first three years and then an ESL (English as a Second Language program is mandated). This is basically a double period English class and an additional ESL class. The subject classes are all in English. There are usually Spanish speaking staff in most schools who the students talk to and they are paired up in class.

The students "right off the boat", have a difficult time. The schools available to them are some of the worst learning environments left in the city. There is Geogorio Luperon and a few International schools which are nice places and cater to their needs. I have seen students and Washington Irving and Bread and Roses get put into incredibly poor environments.

The successful students tend to come from families who were able to send their kids to colegios. There are the occasional campo or barrio kid who comes in at 5-6th grade level and if they work very hard, can achieve high school level reading and writing in Spanish. It does not happen often, but I have seen it. The problem is, they want us to also achieve high school levels in English also. The kids who come into the NYC system at grade level of reading and math in Spanish, can transition to 100% English is usually 2-3 years. The kids used to stay in the program primarily because the students were better behaved and their friends were all in the same classes. Like I said before, most of these programs are gone now.

What was the reason for cancelling the programs - money or were the courses deemed ineffective, or a combination?
 

Tom F.

Bronze
Jan 1, 2002
619
23
38
What was the reason for cancelling the programs - money or were the courses deemed ineffective, or a combination?

Bilingual programs were always somewhat controversial, due to some wondering why you would teach subject classes in the native language of the student if there is a critical mass of students who all speak another languages than English. There used to be Haitian Creole in some neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Can't say if any remain.

California passed a proposition to ban bilingual education statewide in the 90's. People accused the programs of holding students back from learning English. I am a high school teacher so can not really comment on bilingual education for elementary school but completely disagree with the programs holding students back.

First, 100% of the students and immigrants alike want to learn how to speak English when they live here. To keep this short, the key element is the numbers not looking right are the number of students (mostly from the DR) you immigrate to the US below grade level in Spanish. I can comment on this more later but I have to cover a class right now.
 

La Profe_1

Moderator: Daily Headline News, Travel & Tourism
Oct 15, 2003
1,775
163
63
Bilingual programs were always somewhat controversial, due to some wondering why you would teach subject classes in the native language of the student if there is a critical mass of students who all speak another languages than English. There used to be Haitian Creole in some neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Can't say if any remain.

California passed a proposition to ban bilingual education statewide in the 90's. People accused the programs of holding students back from learning English. I am a high school teacher so can not really comment on bilingual education for elementary school but completely disagree with the programs holding students back.

First, 100% of the students and immigrants alike want to learn how to speak English when they live here. To keep this short, the key element is the numbers not looking right are the number of students (mostly from the DR) you immigrate to the US below grade level in Spanish. I can comment on this more later but I have to cover a class right now.

I am a retired high school teacher and have had experience with a non-English speaking student in a non-bilingual class.

I taught Regents Biology and had a student, child of Taiwanese professors at the University of Buffalo, in my class. She spoke little if no English at the beginning of the year. She came to class with a four inch thick Mandarin-English dictionary. I kept her language difficulties in mind as I taught and made extensive use of hand-outs and the blackboard.

By the end of the school year, her English had improved to the point that she took the NYS Regents Examination in Biology, in English, and scored a mid-eighties grade.

It is possible to succeed without bilingual education. However, in fairness I must point out that this was an extremely diligent student whose parents were university professors.

For Dominican students in NYC, I would think that it would be more difficult due to the fact that students who have moved to the US from the DR often don't have a solid base upon which to build. I would also wonder about the motivation provided by the parents who may not believe in the importance of education.
 

Tom F.

Bronze
Jan 1, 2002
619
23
38
La Profe 1, I have seen digent Dominican students progress and succeed at the same rate, but it is not common. Too many NYC public schools are completely out of control and too many new immigrant students get lost in the system. Ecuadorian, Honduran and Mexican students have identical issues and are the other larger groups I have come across over the years. The Dominican students who are at grade level when they entered, come from solid families, and most likely went to a colegio in the DR (private school) do very well on go on to US colleges.
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
34,584
1,947
113
One cannot compare a child from Taiwan or mainland China to a child from a Latin country. Chinese parents, for example, will purchase a piano for their child to learn music before they will purchase a sofa for the living room. I sold pianos in Palo Alto, CA just before I moved here to bide my time until my arrangements were completed to relocate. Asians are very driven and know very well the meaning of education. Their children attend school during the day, take music lessons and "tuition" at night. In essence, they kick everyone elses A$$.

Latin parents, as it has been described above, too often think that just passing is good enough and thus the apple therefore does not fall far from the tree. In addition, so many end up in NY City, which is probably one of the worst environments in which to grow up in the US outside of Detroit and East LA.

I, for one, am for complete immersion in English, but I am not a teacher. I do see that one educator responded that teaching in a language other than English in the US does hold the student back. I have always had a gut feeling that this is true.
 

Tom F.

Bronze
Jan 1, 2002
619
23
38
I would argue that immersion programs are better the younger the student. As they get older, complete immersion will not allow them to progress in their Math, Science and Social Studies classes at the same rate. It would be ideal if all kids had the proper support at home because the initial years of the transition are crucial. To be honest, some the economically better off families start the English classes in the DR before they migrate to the US. Most families have years or even more than a decade waiting for the paper work and have plenty of advance warning where they are going. Other kids were born in NYC or another part of the US, moved back to the DR when they were very young and came back to the US in high school.
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
34,584
1,947
113
Tom F. Your argument does agree with the fact that up until about 8 years of age, children have a much easier time learning multiple languages than after that age. That said, if reality means that even classes taught in English are poorly funded, those taught in other languages are going to be completely eliminated for better or worse. The US is not entering a new golden age.
Far from it, it is time to hunker down.
 

La Profe_1

Moderator: Daily Headline News, Travel & Tourism
Oct 15, 2003
1,775
163
63
One cannot compare a child from Taiwan or mainland China to a child from a Latin country. Chinese parents, for example, will purchase a piano for their child to learn music before they will purchase a sofa for the living room. I sold pianos in Palo Alto, CA just before I moved here to bide my time until my arrangements were completed to relocate. Asians are very driven and know very well the meaning of education. Their children attend school during the day, take music lessons and "tuition" at night. In essence, they kick everyone elses A$$.

Latin parents, as it has been described above, too often think that just passing is good enough and thus the apple therefore does not fall far from the tree. In addition, so many end up in NY City, which is probably one of the worst environments in which to grow up in the US outside of Detroit and East LA.

I, for one, am for complete immersion in English, but I am not a teacher. I do see that one educator responded that teaching in a language other than English in the US does hold the student back. I have always had a gut feeling that this is true.

I did not attempt to compare a Taiwanese student to a Latin one. I know there are major differences, as I said in my post. The Buffalo Schools have many Latin (Puerto Rican) students who speak little English and are in the same situation I described. In most cases, however, the outcomes are very different due to what has already been noted: that parents don't expect students to excel and that many students don't have a solid base on which to learn.

My post simply was to recount an example in which non-bilingual education for a non-English speaker was successful.
 

bob saunders

Platinum
Jan 1, 2002
28,572
2,153
113
dr1.com
I did not attempt to compare a Taiwanese student to a Latin one. I know there are major differences, as I said in my post. The Buffalo Schools have many Latin (Puerto Rican) students who speak little English and are in the same situation I described. In most cases, however, the outcomes are very different due to what has already been noted: that parents don't expect students to excel and that many students don't have a solid base on which to learn.

My post simply was to recount an example in which non-bilingual education for a non-English speaker was successful.

In Canada, at least in British Columbia, most school Districts offer ESL until the student is assessed as being able to main-stream in English. My stepson was 10 years old when he came to Canada. He was a good student but knew almost no English. He was put in to an ESL Class with two other Spanish speaking children, around 10 or so Oriental, 7 Bosnian, one Afghani, and one Polish student. After three months he was main streamed and English has always been one of his strong subject since. All but one of those children was functional in English before the end of the year. The only bi-lingual schools in Canada are French/English. I have yet to meet an Hispanic/Latin parent in Canada that didn't want their child to suceed in school.
 

La Rubia

Bronze
Jan 1, 2010
1,336
28
0
In Canada, at least in British Columbia, most school Districts offer ESL until the student is assessed as being able to main-stream in English. My stepson was 10 years old when he came to Canada. He was a good student but knew almost no English. He was put in to an ESL Class with two other Spanish speaking children, around 10 or so Oriental, 7 Bosnian, one Afghani, and one Polish student. After three months he was main streamed and English has always been one of his strong subject since. All but one of those children was functional in English before the end of the year. The only bi-lingual schools in Canada are French/English. I have yet to meet an Hispanic/Latin parent in Canada that didn't want their child to suceed in school.I have yet to met one in the US either that doesn't want their child to succeed, either, but the system seems to be failing them. As others have said, wanting them to succeed and having the ability to establish the expectations and support for them to succeed are two different things.

I think the key to that type of of success is that the group is diverse enough that English becomes the only practical way to communicate with each other. As well, the culture of the school has to allow students to maintain their culture/language, while motivating and helping them to excel in English.

The problem I see in many of the the "bilingual" schools in areas with high Hispanic populations in the US is that with so many people speaking Spanish the real need to learn English is diminished. For immersion to work, the kids need to learn and be motivated from each other. When the only person that speaks the language is the teacher and all the others speak Spanish they can get by without speaking English. When a class is 99% of any one language, it is difficult to teach the new language. Most teachers would probably admit that kids mostly learn from each other. When the group is really diverse or has some native speakers in it, progress happens.

Sadly, what I know about Canada I've learned from posters on DR1--I'm sure we could learn a lot about education from Canada. I would like to see bilingualism as an asset. The schools here still see it as a deficit. Problem: these kids don't speak English, now what is the solution? Well, no-one has seemingly been very successful at finding or implementing it.

I imagine that in Canada, (flame me if I'm wrong) being bilingual is just so the thing to be because of that English/French thing. I would like to see the same in the US--that if you don't speak English and something else (well in Texas, California, and Florida, I'd want it to be Spanish-but I'm open to other languages:)) you are just un-American.

Then my English dominant child would be eligible to recieve Spanish language classes as early as kindergarden in public school and every child would be a "bi-lingual" child.

Now to get off my soap box, and back to DR related, wouldn't it be great if the DR would also embrace Haitian Creole and have that be the defacto second language?
 

Tom F.

Bronze
Jan 1, 2002
619
23
38
Tom F. Your argument does agree with the fact that up until about 8 years of age, children have a much easier time learning multiple languages than after that age. That said, if reality means that even classes taught in English are poorly funded, those taught in other languages are going to be completely eliminated for better or worse. The US is not entering a new golden age.
Far from it, it is time to hunker down.

When both my sons were evaluated for special education services, each time the evaluators tried to say because two languages are spoken at home, that may be cause of their delays. I never bought it. The idea with teaching their subject level classes in their native language (maintenance at grade level) until they reach a certain level in English makes sense and academic studies agree or so I have been told. Because earlier age kids really are not getting into deep understanding of history or science (math is a language in it's own), so immersion works well. It is better to have some Spanish speaking staff for the kids who speak only Spanish. It takes them a few months and off they go. I would want the same for my own children if they were moving from the US to the DR. Total immersion in Spanish, or a transition period with both languages. I think most "duel language" programs go back and forth in all subjects.

Things are getting somewhat nasty related to education in NYC. I see more and more of the US born Dominican students wearing their pants half way to their knees, using the n word in every other sentence and dropping out of high school. Most of them have never been to the DR.
 

La Rubia

Bronze
Jan 1, 2010
1,336
28
0
Things are getting somewhat nasty related to education in NYC. I see more and more of the US born Dominican students wearing their pants half way to their knees, using the n word in every other sentence and dropping out of high school. Most of them have never been to the DR.

So is this the general decline in society or something related to the Dominican experience?

If the Tex/Mex experience mirrors that of the Dominican/NYC, I'd take a student "off the boat" any day as they generally are more respectful. I can do a lot with a student that shows respect and wants to learn regardless of the language they speak or what their parents do for a living. My experience has also been that the longer those same families are here, maybe learns some English and some American ways, the respect just declines.
 

bob saunders

Platinum
Jan 1, 2002
28,572
2,153
113
dr1.com
I think the key to that type of of success is that the group is diverse enough that English becomes the only practical way to communicate with each other. As well, the culture of the school has to allow students to maintain their culture/language, while motivating and helping them to excel in English.

The problem I see in many of the the "bilingual" schools in areas with high Hispanic populations in the US is that with so many people speaking Spanish the real need to learn English is diminished. For immersion to work, the kids need to learn and be motivated from each other. When the only person that speaks the language is the teacher and all the others speak Spanish they can get by without speaking English. When a class is 99% of any one language, it is difficult to teach the new language. Most teachers would probably admit that kids mostly learn from each other. When the group is really diverse or has some native speakers in it, progress happens.

Sadly, what I know about Canada I've learned from posters on DR1--I'm sure we could learn a lot about education from Canada. I would like to see bilingualism as an asset. The schools here still see it as a deficit. Problem: these kids don't speak English, now what is the solution? Well, no-one has seemingly been very successful at finding or implementing it.

I imagine that in Canada, (flame me if I'm wrong) being bilingual is just so the thing to be because of that English/French thing. I would like to see the same in the US--that if you don't speak English and something else (well in Texas, California, and Florida, I'd want it to be Spanish-but I'm open to other languages:)) you are just un-American.

Then my English dominant child would be eligible to recieve Spanish language classes as early as kindergarden in public school and every child would be a "bi-lingual" child.

Now to get off my soap box, and back to DR related, wouldn't it be great if the DR would also embrace Haitian Creole and have that be the defacto second language?

Canada has 4 types of schools - English only, French only, Bi-lingual French/ English and French Immersion. There are are parts of Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick that I would consider to be truly bi-lingual. Most of Canada is English dominate with pockets of French. That said immigrants to most of Canada must learn English and they want to. It is possible , like in NYC to go years without learning and function in your native language. There are aroung 1,000,000 Italians in Toronto and many speak little English. If the Haitian population was legal, yes, it would be good to teach it in the DR.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
4,545
488
83
A bit about Canada...

.....Sadly, what I know about Canada I've learned from posters on DR1--I'm sure we could learn a lot about education from Canada. I would like to see bilingualism as an asset. The schools here still see it as a deficit. Problem: these kids don't speak English, now what is the solution? Well, no-one has seemingly been very successful at finding or implementing it.

I imagine that in Canada, (flame me if I'm wrong) being bilingual is just so the thing to be because of that English/French thing. I would like to see the same in the US--that if you don't speak English and something else (well in Texas, California, and Florida, I'd want it to be Spanish-but I'm open to other languages:)) you are just un-American.

Then my English dominant child would be eligible to recieve Spanish language classes as early as kindergarden in public school and every child would be a "bi-lingual" child.

Now to get off my soap box, and back to DR related, wouldn't it be great if the DR would also embrace Haitian Creole and have that be the defacto second language?


Quebec is officially a French province. Most cities others than Montreal are French-speaking predominantly including scholastic institutions. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city that is predominately French/ English however, the latest reports this summer published in the Gazette ( Montreal's only English newspaper and long standing tradition of excellent journalism in my opinion) officially has more *allophones than francophones and anglophones. Without the stats it is obvious to me but it's good to see that research has been and still is being done on this growing number of speakers because for elementary school education it has an impact on children who enroll in school with no French knowledge or background.

The rest of Canada is English-speaking (the official language of each province) except for New Brunswick which is officially bilingual- English and French. Ottawa, the capital of Canada is a bilingual city, and well-balanced linguistically in my opinion. In small Ontario towns close to the Quebec border such as Cornwall, Ontario (which is about forty- five minutes west on highway 20 which turns into the 401 west once you cross the provincial border has a very large and significant French population mostly former Quebec residents).

Most Canadians are not bilingual as in English and French speakers that's the myth. In my opinion, it would have been more than a benefit if Canadians were truly able to speak the two national languages. However, outside of Quebec and some Franco-Ontario towns/ cities the possibility of that is very low. Most bilingual and trilingual Canadians other than the English/ French language combination are residents or naturalized citizens who have a heritage language or two and learned English over the years in Canada.

The education system is different in each province but there are schools/ education offered in the two national languages or a combination there of.


I love the Canadian mentality of multiculturalism when it comes to languages (of course I am biased but in my case I only reaped the benefits) vs. the one language melting pot mentality of the US.


Regarding the DR, as a nation I don't think it's ready to embrace creole as an official second language for diverse reasons. The primary one I put on the table first is the need to master good quality Spanish first that everyone is taught and has access to before trying to teach the population a 'creole'.


* a person whose first language is neither French nor English.



-Marianopolita.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Africaida

Gold
Jun 19, 2009
7,586
1,080
113
When both my sons were evaluated for special education services, each time the evaluators tried to say because two languages are spoken at home, that may be cause of their delays. I never bought it. The idea with teaching their subject level classes in their native language (maintenance at grade level) until they reach a certain level in English makes sense and academic studies agree or so I have been told. Because earlier age kids really are not getting into deep understanding of history or science (math is a language in it's own), so immersion works well. It is better to have some Spanish speaking staff for the kids who speak only Spanish. It takes them a few months and off they go. I would want the same for my own children if they were moving from the US to the DR. Total immersion in Spanish, or a transition period with both languages. I think most "duel language" programs go back and forth in all subjects.

Things are getting somewhat nasty related to education in NYC. I see more and more of the US born Dominican students wearing their pants half way to their knees, using the n word in every other sentence and dropping out of high school. Most of them have never been to the DR.

Tom F it is exactly my experience in NYC. I can tell you how many times I have to defend the fact that I only speak French to my 3 and 4 yr old children. I am tired of people (including Board of Ed.) giving me lectures about the fact that I need to speak English at home .

International private bilingual school is looking more and more appealing despite the insane price tag.
 

La Rubia

Bronze
Jan 1, 2010
1,336
28
0
I am tired of people (including Board of Ed.) giving me lectures about the fact that I need to speak English at home . And then you swear at them in French, right?:)

Now I understand what Tom F meant about it getting bad. If I said something like that it would get me in hot water here in Texas. And many of the practices we now have are from people who were told not to speak their own language while at school "back in the day".

I guess they feel they can tell you that because they know you speak English, but there are federal cases from which bilingual programs arose that give a child the right to be taught in a language they understand, and to be accomodated in ESL programs where bilingual programs are not possible. It however, doesn't reach into your home, a place where you still get to choose.

Experiences like yours make me wonder if more of our public officials need to dust off the constitution and read it a little more. Again, a case of where bilingualism is the problem, your child (and familiy) is percieved as a problem because you don't speak English at home. UGGHHHH!!!!!