Charter schools help Hispanic kids assimilate

Much of the conservative concern with immigration revolves around assimilation. How can we ensure that immigrant children are speaking our language and understanding our culture? Educating them in charter schools is an important part of the answer.

"Students who strengthen their first language have an easier time acquiring a second language," Atyani Howard, the chief academic officer at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles, said Tuesday. "Over time, they outperform their monolingual peers." Howard was speaking at a Capitol Hill briefing hosted by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Howard says the students at Camino Nuevo's English-only campus start off better than the students on their bilingual campuses, but the bilingual peers eventually outperform similar students who speak only English.

Charter schools are uniquely positioned for the task of assimilation given their flexibility relative to traditional public schools. "What the charter school model allows educators to do is adapt to what the families need," Rick Cruz, a member of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, told the Washington Examiner. "It gives us the opportunity to find different ways to make the Latino community part of the American community."

Cruz says the charter school community has been doing outreach to communities, especially African-American and Hispanic ones, to make sure families know they have choices. Many charter schools have specifically oriented themselves to serve those communities, while still being accepting of all students.