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Cool stuff that other reporters have done this weekend: The New York Times ran a fascinating article about how charter schools are filling a niche for immigrant families who want both a good public education and a chance to preserve their culture and traditions. It reminded me of our article aboutIftin, a charter school that serves mostly Somali families here in San Diego. Iftin emphasizes that its mission is academic and not cultural, but parents describe it as a welcome change from public schools where Somali is not understood.

Here is a snippet from the NYT article about a Minnesota school:

The curriculum at the Twin Cities International Elementary School, and at its partner middle school and high school, is similar to that of other public schools with high academic goals. But at Twin Cities International the girls say they can freely wear head scarves without being teased, the lunchroom serves food that meets the dietary requirements of Muslims, and in every classroom there are East African teaching assistants who understand the needs of students who may have spent years in refugee camps. … A place like Minnesota, with its strong charter-school movement, offers immigrant parents, who have long been conflicted about their children becoming Americanized, a strong voice in their children’s education, Dr. Suárez-Orozco said, and shows their eagerness to participate in democracy.

“What the parents are saying,” he said, “is, We want our children to assimilate, we want them to acculturate, but we want to be proactively engaged in shaping that process.”

EMILY ALPERT

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