Thursday, January 11, 2007

No School Bus Rides For The English-Speaking

It's when we read stories like this one from Minnesota that affirm our belief that merit-based promotion is indeed a rarity in most public school systems:
Imagine sending your kids off to school, but when they get to the bus they are told they can't get on because they speak English.

That's right, English.

It happened to a few children in St. Paul and now the school district is apologizing.

Rachel Armstrong sent her kids to pick up the bus as usual Monday, but after the driver let the kids on, he told them he would not pick them up again. He even said he wouldn't take them home that afternoon.

Armstrong left work early Tuesday, forced to pick up her kids from Phalen Lake Elementary School.

Her twin girls, 10, and her son, 8, were kicked off their regular school bus. They were told by the bus driver the route is for non-English speaking students only.

"I was furious. I was at work and I was just mad." Armstrong said. "I felt like we were being discriminated because we speak English. Just because they speak English, they can't ride the school bus. I mean, this is America, right?"

Administrators at St. Paul Public Schools admit the district made a mistake when it stranded the kids at school Monday.

However, the district points out, that particular bus route serves one of three language academies. The one at Phalen Lake is for Hmong students learning English.

The academies all have separate bus routes to keep its students together.

The district decided to enforce the separate routes beginning Monday, but it did not tell the Armstrong family.

"It is our responsibility to ensure the safety of these kids and we made a mistake. The kids should have gotten home that day," Dayna Kennedy, a public relations representative said.

The district also discovered the Armstrongs no longer live in the Phalen Lake School boundary because they moved last year.

So even though the district apologized, if they want to still go to Phalen, they are going to have to get their own ride.
Of course the punchline in this tragi-comedy of errors is on the parents who filed the complaint and thus alerted the authorities to the fact that they had moved outside the district.
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