Concern over Hispanic student education at Memphis City Schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Concern over Hispanic student education at Memphis City Schools

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - There is concern over the education of Hispanic students at Memphis City Schools.  Responding to a funding crisis within the school system, Memphis City School Board members elected Monday night to cut non-mandated teachers and English as a Second language mentors.

Mauricio Calvo is new director of Latino Memphis, a support agency for the estimated 100,000 Hispanics in Memphis.  Tuesday, Calvo said he would like to know details of the proposed cuts, because on the surface they do not look good for the Hispanic population.

Just before he spoke to the Memphis Rotary, Calvo talked about the school board's decision to cut mentors in the ESL program that helps Hispanic students and other nationalities learn how to speak English.

"We hear so often, 'They need to learn English. They need to learn English.' Well, somebody has to teach them, you know. If we cut education, then we're cutting on the future," he said.

Calvo's organization works to help Hispanics learn about jobs, services and other opportunities, while at the same time educating non-Hispanics about the Latino community.

Calvo said ESL mentors are "needed" to help Hispanic families assimilate into mainstream Memphis.
"Many of these kids' parents do not speak English, so many times that ESL teacher is the only contact," Calvo said.

At Monday night's meeting, MCS Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash explained the cuts.

"We're not cutting any programs. We're cutting across the top, so it's not quite as much heft in it," he said.

As school officials set out to explain their decision, Latino leaders hope and pray that the result will not be fewer opportunities for Hispanics to learn English.

"I always say that you know in order to make this community successful, each one of it's parts has to be successful. So it's in everybody's best interest to make a better Latino community, just like the African American community or white community to be successful. That way we will have a better Memphis for everyone," Calvo said.

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