Letter: Public schools aid assimilation

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Public schools aid assimilation

Why do Europeans have so many difficulties assimilating immigrants over the years when America does not? The answer is our great assimilation machine called the public school system.

Unlike other countries, we don’t leave our immigrant communities isolated and out of the mainstream where they continue their own practices, talk only to their own people and educate themselves in their own enclaves. In America, we send our children to public schools where they must rub elbows with other children from all walks of life.

I witnessed this first hand when our church sponsored Vietnamese refugees. Although the parents often arrived speaking little English, after a few years in the public school system the children were as American in taste, language, dress and style as any other teenager.

Privatizing our schools is bound to have the unintended consequence of preventing the kind of assimilation we need to keep the American idea alive while preventing immigrants from becoming disaffected and radicalized. This is why we should never allow our education system to be privatized and why the voucher and school choice movement is so misguided.

As our State House and Senate consider proposals to create tax breaks and a voucher system to encourage parents to send their children to private schools, I ask them to consider the great contribution our public school systems make in building the American way of life. It’s our great advantage as a nation.

Undermining and underfunding our public school system must not happen.