By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
By Pete Kotz
By Monica Alonzo
By New Times
At Arcadia, ESL students can sign up with Kane for as many as three of their six daily class periods; they are "mainstreamed" into English-speaking classes for the rest of the day. And while Scottsdale Unified School District offers workshops designed to prepare non-ESL teachers to deal with the ESL population, there is no mandatory training.
Not all of Kane's colleagues share her affection for these students. When she hears that a gringa reporter plans to spend a morning in the ESL classroom, Bryce McKinney-Wain rolls her eyes dramatically and chuckles. "Good luck," she says. McKinney-Wain has taught English at Arcadia for almost ten years. Just the other day, she says, a white student asked her, "Why do the Mexicans call themselves 'Wetback Power' when they don't want us to call them wetbacks?" The teacher laughs and shakes her head--obviously, she doesn't know, either--then tries to imitate gang hand signs.
ESL students say the teachers have difficulty bridging the cultural, economic and linguistic barriers. One sophomore ESL student says that when she explained to a teacher that she couldn't attend a Saturday-morning review session because she had a job, the teacher told her to skip work.
In the wake of the March melee, Arcadia High administrators, teachers and students made zealous attempts to include Spanish-speaking students. The daily announcements were read in both English and Spanish. Colleen Kane borrowed a school van and brought a group of Hispanic mothers from Holiday Park to a parent forum. The student council agreed to allow the ESL students to send a representative to their meetings next year. Will it make any difference? Not much, according to sophomore Chris James. When the school sponsored a "cultural diversity" day, he says, "a lot of students just took it as a joke, a way to get shortened classes, get out of stuff. It was a good idea, but you've gotta consider that a lot of the students just don't really care." One need only walk onto campus between classes or at lunch to see how clearly and willfully Arcadia students segregate themselves. Every day during lunch, any student who wants to can shoot baskets in the gym. Every day the kids separate: whites inside the gym, Hispanics outside. It's an unspoken, unchallenged rule.
One Hispanic student, who requested anonymity, says that's just the way it is and always will be.
"I hang with my crowd," he says. "The other--the white people hang with their crowd. So what's the problem? You guys want us to be mixed, you know. There's no way, because high society doesn't hang around with the minorities."
@body:On a recent Saturday morning, members of the Arcadia/Camelback Mountain Homeowners' Association gathered to discuss the delicate condition of their aging grapefruit trees and the increasing traffic on Camelback Road. But their biggest concern--the one that the meeting's organizers saved for last on the agenda--was the schools.
School-board member Susan Goldsmith assured the Bermuda-shorts-clad group that the violence at Arcadia was under control and that overcrowding at Arcadia High's two feeder elementary schools--Hopi serves the northern section of the attendance area; Tavan serves the southern section--will be alleviated.
But when an anxious parent asked, Goldsmith refused to promise that Hopi would never have a program for Spanish-speaking kids.
Because the immigrant population has mainly settled in the southern portion of the Arcadia neighborhood, the increase in Spanish-speaking students has been far greater at Tavan Elementary School.
In the past decade, the ESL population at Tavan has grown from one child to almost 200 children. More than 400 of the school's 1,000 students participate in a government-subsidized lunch program. "That is a real change for us," says Tavan principal Bruce Burns.
It's not a welcome change for parents like Denise Caudle. When Caudle moved to Arcadia ten years ago, it was a dream come true. "Now," she says, "we'll do anything to not live there."
Caudle and some other Tavan parents argue that because of the presence of Spanish-speaking students, their children are not receiving adequate attention in the classroom. "We just have too many of these special-needs kids on the campus," she says.
The parents of the ESL kids don't participate in school-sponsored activities, according to Caudle. They don't join the PTA or donate funds to supplement programs. "One-third of our population is noncontributory," she says.
Tempers flared at a curriculum meeting in March, when the disgruntled white parents voiced their opposition to a "multicultural" teaching program proposed by ESL teachers and complained generally about the presence of ESL students.
Hispanic parents weren't represented at that meeting. Sandra Lozano, a bilingual parent who also works at Tavan, says the immigrants "really do like Tavan a lot. It's just that since a lot of them don't speak English, they feel intimidated and they don't really come out." Lozano hopes to serve as a liaison between the Spanish-speaking parents and the rest of the Tavan community.
Herve Lemire, one of Tavan's ESL teachers, prepared a "response paper" after the heated meeting. Lemire wrote, "I am saddened that . . . a group of good people would still hold fast to a form of social behavior that so blatantly shouts of bigotry, self-interest and polite hate for Mexican immigrants and other non-English-speaking immigrants."