Tuesday, August 14, 2007

122. Ignorance and Racism at PSS

Herman Pan, Member of the CNMI Board of Education, says the Board is concerned with the immigration status of PSS students. He wants to explore the possibility of adding fees to immigrant students for their public education. Public Schools may look into immigration status of students .

Jeff Turbitt, teacher at Saipan Southern and popular blogger, denies his own racism but says (edit, correction: Jeff says "teaching") the Korean students in his classroom (is) are unfair to the other students because of (the students') their poor English skills.

No doubt PSS is overcrowded and underfunded. Our schools are suffering from lack of teachers, lack of materials, lack of everything. And so our students are suffering.

And so we turn to the easy scapegoat--those damn foreignors.

I am very concerned that our schools do not have enough money. I was horrified to learn from Boni Gomez that GES cancelled a kindergarten class this year for lack of funds. The evidence is overwhelming that attendance at kindergarten gives students a life-long edge in education.

And we need to do more to fix these problems.

But PSS board members and teachers pointing at immigrants as the problem and focusing attention on them is just wrong. It sends a message that stigmatization, that racism is okay. Despite Jeff's denial. Despite the American value of equality and fair treatment.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed public school discrimination against undocumented aliens in Plyler vs. Doe, 102 S. Ct. 2382 (1982). Believe it or not, the U.S. has had its share of problems from undocumented aliens. The CNMI's problems are not new, not unique, and not unexplored.

The U.S. Supreme Court said: "Sheer incapability or lax enforcement of the laws barring entry into this country, coupled with the failure to establish an effective bar to the employment of undocumented aliens, has resulted in the creation of a substantial "shadow population" of illegal migrants--numbering in the millions--within our borders." It was speaking of the U.S., but the sentiment applies equally to the CNMI.

Our immigration service is incapable and has failed to enforce the laws we have about immigration. But when students are here and apply to go our public schools, WE DO NOT DISCRIMINATE against them, no matter how they got here, not matter how taxed we are, no matter how short-staffed, unfunded, and difficult the job.

And that means, educators in the classroom and our education officials on the Board, should NOT be looking to our foreign students as the problem that needs to be fixed, should not be saying we need to tack on additional fees for immigrants, should not be complaining about those poor-English speakers in their classrooms.

In Plyler vs. Doe, the state argued that it needed to preserve "the state's limited resources for the education of its lawful residents." But the Supreme Court held that undocumented alien students within the states borders are entitled to the same free, appropriate public education that "lawful residents" enjoy. That's due process and equality.

And that's an American value.

Why? Because education is vitally important. Because we need our teachers to be nice to our kids. We need our kids to learn to live in a multi-cultural society without always jumping down the throats of those who are different. We need to own our problems and stop blaming others, especially young kids in public schools.

Legally, PSS is bound to educate students here, no matter how they got here. And singling out the increase in Korean students only teaches intolerance and racism. And that's not the lesson our PSS should be sending to our kids.

What's worse than the economic woes we're facing right now? Which is worse: Poverty, or racism and ignorance? Well, my vote isn't for poverty.

I'm disgusted with Herman Pan and Jeff for adding to the intolerance and stupidity level of the CNMI. Herman could have simply called his knowledgeable legal counsel to find out that he's being ignorant, and prejudiced. Jeff could have used his smarts to do a little checking first.

And now Korean students will be headed into their classrooms with teachers like Jeff. How fair do you think any Korean student in Jeff's class will be treated now? How fair will it feel to them? How fair will they be treated by other teachers who are less tolerant than Jeff but quieter?

[Edit: delete]

It's never smart, fair, or ethical to say students of a race or ethnicity are a problem in the schools. Not by teachers. Not by Board members. Not by Americans.


BoReGo said...

I read your post with great consideration. I have, for years, turned a deaf ear to the registration procedure requiring submission of residency/immigration status. Federal law, FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) and human decency demand that all students be afforded the opportunity to learn. Like many educators, I believe that a college education should be every child's birthright. Like NCLB (No Child Left Behind), I believe also that no one should be denied the rights to an education.

While I believe wholeheartedly that we cannot turn any student away based on ethnicity, socio-economic status, ability level and yes, immigration status, what has happened recently in our schools is a travesty of the law. Of course, this is my opinion and I will try my best to defend it.

As Jeff pointed out, there are many students who register for school without proper documentation. Since the beginning of this school year, GES has seen at least two cases in which "sponsors" have tried to offer monetary compensation for enrolling their students without any type of previous educational record, health screening and proof of residency. Children enrolled in the PSS must reside in the domicile of their legal guardian or parent.

The students who are arriving only intend to stay within the boundaries of the CNMI for approximately less than a school quarter (a month in some cases). These students are on what their sponsors refer to as "cultural exchange". They furnish no school records that help us determine grade placement or ability; have not gone through the process of acquiring immunization records or school entrance health exams; and do not intend to take the school records they eventually receive here, back to their home of origin.

It is my understanding that the sponsors of these students receive a good amount of monetary compensation for hosting these students, who come in cycles for short periods of time. Jeff has issue with the fact that their parents take advantage of this "free English class" and do not contribute to our economy. I can agree on some point, but my larger concern is with the manner in which the PSS resources are used and the improper draining of these meager resources for students who do not intend to complete an academic calendar year, students who are here merely for a vacation and a mini English tutorial session.

Now, in regards to cultural exchange, my school welcomes the interaction of other students from foreign schools and will gladly promote cultural awareness as long as these students, like the general population, provide the necessary documentation to enroll, even for a month. The CNMI PSS has hosted many legitimate opportunities for cultural exchange. I do not question the possibility that these students wish to learn about our islands, but I don't respect their parents' decisions to unfairly use our schools as short-term vacation schools.

With respect to the issue of resources, the PSS has only begun to understand the way that English Language Learners learn. Our schools are inundated with ELL students from the CNMI and abroad who require instruction in both primary English and content knowledge. This is no small task, especially when you consider that we do not employ ELL teachers in our schools. Each classroom teacher is bound by a duty of care to plan and implement instruction based on student needs. When a child with absolutely no English skills arrives in our schools, our teachers must organize their limited time to teach every child while attending to a non-speaker. This, as you can imagine, takes valuable one on one time away from the rest of the students who will be here all year long. Because it takes more time and resources to instruct an ELL, you can also see that this student who will eventually leave our system in a few weeks will have unfairly demanded class time from the "officially registered" students.

There are other issues like the health requirements, but most students who arrive are in visibly good health and to me, those matters are small ones compared to the diversion caused in the classroom.

It is true that many of these students who register offer the school incentives such as monetary donations and educational tax credit, but that takes us down the slippery road to priorities. Is it our priority to fundraise at all cost, or to provide the best services to students by planning effective and efficient operations, hiring qualified teachers, ensuring a safe environment and implementing strategies for high student performance?

No matter who the student is, or where she/he comes from, they are welcome at PSS. It is an altogether different story when legal guardians/parents choose to manipulate the system for their own benefit, especially in the face of the economic crisis we are experiencing. Jeff said that the school and the teacher lose in situations like this. I would say that there really are no winners. The school loses valuable time trying to locate resources that do not exist with staff that cannot be employed to handle this type of situation. The teacher and students lose invaluable time diverting, though sometimes only for a short while, from the intended path. The foreign student loses because he/she does not really get a quality ELL lesson, but a haphazard attempt to meet significant learning needs that, by the time they are understood, it is time for them to leave. The sponsors and the parents lose because they have done no good for that student at all.

These are my thoughts and I am open to dialogue and your feelings. There are two distinct conversations occurring here, discrimination vs. education. It is never our intent to discriminate against people, it is our conviction to be discriminate about how we manage the little we have in the best interest of all the students within our CNMI boundaries no matter their origin. I hope I've made some sense.

Just to be clear here, we will enroll any student who:
1. Submits educational records (official transcripts in English)
2. Submits a School Entrance Health Clearance
3. Is under the domicile of a LEGAL guardian (court appointed guardian) or parent who resides in the CNMI. - we can't discuss the student's progress with anyone else.
4. Resides in our district zone
5. Has proof of insurance, copy of birth certificate/passport
6. legal guardians/parents complete the official registration and other school documents that relate to student records, health and safety ( have authorization to sign on behalf of the student).

I realize this is a very long comment, but it is important.

Saipan Writer said...

I don't have a problem with your school's requirements in general. Each one seems tied to a legitimate concern. (Although I think the law may require enrollment of students while waiting for transcripts, but I'm not sure about that. These are the kind of requirements you clear with your PSS legal counsel.)

Of your requirements, the most difficult is the guardianship requirement. Getting a guardianship is sometimes inconvenient for our poor clients (even U.S. citizen clients) who are raising grandchildren or other family members. It can take months. They'd rather use powers of attorney (and the legal requirements are more onerous for guardianship than they are for adoption!), but I understand the need for it.

So if foreign students come in, there is no problem with treating them the same way as all other students, subject to the same requirements, which have legitimate educational purposes.

Nor do I have a problem with requiring "proof of residency." Our schools are for children living in the CNMI.

The problem I have with what was reported is our education officials complaining about children presently enrolled and sitting in the classroom. It makes a target of every foreign student on every PSS campus.

The GES requirements are legitimate educational responses to address a changing student population. But it seems like you're saying they don't address the problem of students who do not live here enrolling in school; that vacationers or tourists are enrolling; that very short-term students are pulling extra-ordinary resources from the school.

I don't have a problem with saying tourists can't enroll in our public schools. And I'm guessing that students like the ones you mention must be here on tourist visas.

The real question becomes enforcement, because you--educators-- simply can't ask about status. Enforcement of immigration is for immigration officials, not school officials.

So perhaps the conversation should be turned away from the students who are enrolled, and toward the legislature and immigration officials--toward tightening the laws and enforcing regulations, to make it clear that tourists cannot enroll in our public schools, to make it clear that people who assist tourists in wrongfully entering school are punished.

And then enforcement is done, not by school officials calling in on every foreign-looking student, but by immigration officals checking on school age tourists to make sure they're complying with the restrictions, checking on their sponsors to make sure they're not enrolling students wrongfully.

A pipe dream? Probably, given our immigration. But this is how it should work.

For schools dealing with ESL or ELL, this has to be a nightmare, especially with dwindling resources. But once students are properly enrolled, it's one that has to be faced by schools, whether the students stay a month or a year or forever. Obviously, the school officials like you, Boni, know this and are doing it. You are all heros for teaching our children.

But I repeat, the problem I have with all of this, as reported in the Variety, is the idea that educators are blaming foreign students who are presently sitting in classrooms all over the CNMI, are saying the foreign students are the problem. I think that invites retaliation and intolerance.

The real problems are not kids, but the lack of resources, (possibly) the lack of clear immigration regulations that prohibit tourists in our schools (I say possibly, because I don't know the regulations and perhaps there already is such a one), and the lack of consequences/ enforcement for those who sponsor tourists enrolling in our schools.

I have been in court when a long-standing member of the community sought a guardianship of nephews (I think, or possibly nieces) to bring them for a year of education, to give them an opportunity at an American education. The purpose was stated in open court. No one knew of anything in the law prohibits this. The judge took the case under advisement, still worried about the purpose. (I don't know how he eventually ruled.)

It seems like a tension is building up from the lack of resources and the difficulties our teachers face in the classroom, and the stress is being aimed at foreign students, particularly the Koreans. I sympathize with teachers. I have a better understanding of the problem, thanks to you, Boni. And I think Jeff is one hell of a liberal guy, generally, with a great take on political events. But I don't see how he, as a teacher, can be viewed by his Korean students, even his U.S.-citizen Korean- ethnicity students, as fair when he complains in the newspaper about all the Koreans who are probably illegal in his classroom. And I don't think he'd be viewed as fair by some of his other ethnic students either. Which is another reason why immigration must be enforced by immigration officials, and not schools.

I really think we need U.S. immigration to take over our border controls. I think they'd do a better job on this type of problem, and many others. Do we hear about Guam having a similar problem with their schools?

BoReGo said...

There are many issues to contend with when registering new students, and that is why at GES, as in other PSS schools, we offer a 30 day waiting period for official records, guardianships, etc. to come in. You are right, we cannot ask for immigration status, we should not, and don't. Our job is to educate and that is a big enough task.

And yes, once the student is enrolled, we have to call upon every available resource, human and other to meet their needs, but it's another story when you are aware that the student will be gone in a few weeks. As a teacher, you cannot ignore both facts (ELL and leaver) or your other students.

I don't blame immigrant students, poverty levels, english language deficiency, or any other factor, for our poor performance. That is a cop out and a poor excuse for non-performance.

Fundraising, immigration, utilities, all these things and more have to stay out of our daily routine as administrators and teachers. They detract from the vision. They make it hard to focus on the vision. The vision is to welcome each student and share in the educational journey.

I have no problem enrolling a child of an illegal immigrant and I'll do it every time with a blind eye. This is our mandate, and we are not border control, as you say. But, I cannot with a good conscience enroll a student who has been thrown into our system by parents looking for a free ride for a few weeks. Especially when I know there is nothing we can do in that short time to benefit that child.

Thanks for opening up the lines here. I still believe that Jeff has the right intention, and that his issue is not with the ethnicity of students coming in, but with the strategy in which groups of adults choose to manipulate the true intent of free and appropriate public education. We'll have to hear from him though, won't we? I have a great deal of respect for him as a teacher, and I've learned a lot from reading his hypercritical thoughts. I admire your honesty too, and your thoughtfulness in writing. I think this community brings real balance to the island and I'm grateful for it.

Jeff said...

You know what Jane, you're too smart not to be able to read, so it is pretty depressing to see you misinterpreting and misrepresenting what I said. I didn’t say Korean students are unfair to other students, I said people cheating the system enrolling in the schools on a tourist visa for free English lessons are unfair to the students who live here, pay taxes and contribute to the island.. It’s a big difference and you damn well know it. What are you, Fox News for the left?

There is no scapegoat. This isn’t scapegoating at all. It’s pointing out a scam that people don’t know about and is growing, so please.

The classroom is overcrowded to start with, families are running a home stay scam and they are doubtlessly cheating on their visas. If they want a student visa, get one. I have no beef with that. A tourist visa is to be a tourist. You know and I know the purpose of a tourist visa, and it isn’t for a fourteen year old to show up on an American island alone for free English lessons to get a better chance for an American college to get into some Korean corporation. Why don’t we just pay for all of Seoul to study here? Stack them up seven high until the fire marshal shuts down the school. Put a big ad up on a billboard in Seoul. I’d love to see you put your money where your mouth is and put your kid in the classroom with 40 people of twenty different ability levels. I can differentiate all day with all those students, no prep time and limited resources. I don’t have a family, and I’m part robot. Even in Korea, classes are arranged by level, and that’s with 6-8, not 30 plus.

And am I supposed to get up and say there is no debate, assuming your case law is representative of everything. Something tells me a different lawyer could show me different cases that tell a different story. Beyond that, the Supreme Court ruled that it was ok to put Japanese in concentration camps, to segregate schools and to stop counting the votes to see who the people wanted to be president. Pardon me if I don’t stop and genuflect at the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Court you cite.

It is very clear I have a problem with people running this scam of any race. It has nothing to do with Koreans, they just happen to be the ones doing it right now. Korea is hardly an impoverished country where people need to do this.

I did check with legal counsel, and it became obvious they can get away with it, at least as far as PSS is concerned. Immigration can and should kick them out if they have overstayed their visas, like anyone doing that. Am I required to agree with this scam? The shocker isn’t in what’s illegal; the shocker is in what’s legal.

I’ve had Koreans get A’s before, and I’ve lived there for two years, voluntarily. So cut the crap with the woe is me Korean in my class. I know their culture. I know some of their language, and I know specifically what is motivating some of them to do this. The Korean students have liked me for these reasons, and your statements here are especially reckless and outrageous, but I’m not shocked coming from you.

This is at least the second time you’ve accused me of a type of an “ism.” You recklessly said this of Brad before. I think you’ve read my blog, and his, enough to know that this isn’t true, but you did it anyway. Your self-righteous bullshit is a little too much. I am happy to argue with people, Melissa and I do it all the time, but never is it in the fashion you do it. Frankly, I’d expect more honest polemics from someone trained in that art. I’m certainly not going to turn this into Harry and Bree II, but suffice to say that I’ve had it with you, but feel free to continue misrepresenting me, you seem to do it well.

Jeff said...

And one other thing, If 14 year olds cared that much about what their teachers had to say, our jobs would be 100 times easier. They don't.

I've seen kids show up to school in high heel boots and make up, stuff that would have gotten me killed in high school, and no one cares.

I've never really seen a single act of racism among the students in five years. I've never seen a fight or even one kid picked on. I'm not kidding. These aren't issues in our schools, but you wouldn't much know that, because you aren't there. I happen to be.

Not one kid said a word about this today, and the Marianas Variety took this from my blog because someone thought it was a good point and suggested a news story to Zaldy. That person wasn't me.

And, if students were reading the paper every day, my job would be much easier. They aren't. I've been in the paper countless times offering thoughts and the kids don't much care. They aren't going to start now.

Anonymous said...

Well, I really enjoyed the picture of Kimchi on Turbitt's blog. It was very necessary, but an appetizing one. I'm sure it's not an attack against Korean culture. Right? At least, that's what my Korean friend thought...

Anonymous said...

The sardines were an attack on Nova Scotians, too.

Saipan Writer said...

Jeff, I do know how to read.

I read the article, in its entirety. The thrust of the article was that we have too many (non-English speaking, don't-care, short timer) Korean kids in our classes, and that half of them are tourists, which is a problem for the schools. And that we have to get rid of them from our public schools.

I sympathize. If you read my blog and my comments, you'd see that I agree that "tourists" should not be in our classes. But kids who are living here, whether they get in on tourist visas, renew them, or are just illegal, should be. Because they're living here and they're kids and they need education.

I just and still think its wrong for teachers and education officials to become immigration nazis. And the tenor of the article was just that, especially the suggestion by Herman Pan to add charges to aliens, and especially your rant that half of the Koreans in your class are probably illegal.

As for kowtowing to the US Supreme Court decisions--I don't always agree, and there are decisions I hate from both the US Supreme Court and our local CNMI Supreme court. But I do generally respect the law. Plyler vs. Doe is black-letter law, now, and it prohibits public schools froms denying access on an equal basis to aliens, whether illegal or not. (Lawyers love to argue, but it's pretty hard to find a case that trumps the U.S. Supreme Court's.)

I would hope that we question the law, fight against unjust ones, and honor all of them as the closest approximation to a just system we as humans can come up with. But most importantly is to know them, so you can figure out what needs changing and what works in favor of your own ideas.

Fox News for the left? Your a funny guy, Jeff. But I don't think Fox would open up for any and all comments, anonymous and others. They have stricter controls on content. I'm all for hearing the opinions of others. I learn a lot from the mistakes I make, so excuse me for offending you with them.

My daughter will be heading to Saipan Southern next year. She graduated 6th grade from SVES. Yes, she's at Mount Carmel just now. I'm Catholic and I wanted her to get some better grounding in our faith. It doesn't mean I'm not committed and connected to the public schools, where nearly all of my nieces and nephews have been or are attending.

Jeff, I've been here almost 24 years. No one knows what is going on everywhere, all the time. But I have some experience and insight. Different than yours, but still valuable.

As for "honest polemics," what is more honest than writing openly and publicly and allowing comments? I'm not out there talking behind your back. I'm blogging.

I disagree with your statements that you expressed in a public forum. I say why I disagree. Who's afraid of honest discussion?

And I'm glad you haven't seen racism in your classes. Our young students are obviously better than the adults in the community. There have been some very ugly incidents here (including racially motivated murders). And unfortunately, I still hear unkind comments from some of the kids I come in contact with. But I'm glad to hear from your perpsective that things are improving.

And then there's the issue of the "scam." Is it a scam if it isn't illegal and they're just taking advantage in a way no one anticipated? When it's illegal, it will be a scam. Now, it's just a loophole that needs to be re-examined and closed, legally and within the framework of the constitution.

It would be wonderful if our students read the newspapers. Maybe if you keep making the papers, they will. One can always hope.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jane, for making such an eloquent argument against grandfathering in thousands of alien workers and their children who (notwithstanding Pete A's incorrect interpretation of pending federal legislation) currently live in foreign countries but would be able to join their parent here and attend school on the CNMI taxpayers' dime (since the federal gov't isn't offering any money in the current bills). You're right -- it is all about border control.

Saipan Writer said...

Anon, I'm not against grandfather aliens in the CNMI. Quite the contrary, I favor it.

And my point doesn't support an argument against grandfather in aliens. They do pay taxes, so their children should go to schools here. And once grandfathered in, like others seeking better economic situations, chances are many would move to Guam or the states.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who wrote the Kimchi comment here. Yes, the sardines were definitely an attack against Nova Scotians. Mmmmm Sardines... I wonder if the Vikings are pissed at Turbitt.

To the sardine commenter, I hint no racism at all in Turbit and the article was definitely very well balanced, informative, and ummm... sympathetic to all involved in the issue.

Rather than channeling this potential industry to become a lucrative one for the CNMI, I think that all Koreans should be kicked out, especially everyone that eats Kimchi and Sardines (well, if you don't eat rotten cabbage, maybe you can stay).

Of course, lest we forget, the legitimate businesses pay all of their taxes so we don't have a problem at all, and the only foreign students are Koreans, who just seem to be fixated with English (nope, they are not learning Chinese, Japanese, and other languages... oh yes, they do or maybe not). Might I say that I sense love for Koreans in Turbit's article, the Koreans who all go out with Americans for English lessons, like blood sucking tics. The diction, syntax, and argumentation all point towards positive things for Koreans (and Nova Scottians). I'm sure all were necessary and proper, sitting on the beacon of light for the world to be judged, as we have solid proof that Korean parents wanted to "scam" the taxpayers of CNMI. Should check the dictionary for such libelous allegations. Maybe next time, before judging the world from the hill, we should consider whether there were knowledge, intention, and deliberate action resulting from those two.

By the way, we should kick out all Korean businesses as well. They have been so harmful and disastrous to the local economy, being the only few source of real outside cash, unlike all other local businesses that rely upon it. Crazy Koreans and their Kimchi... Sardines... Miso morons... Oh wait, that was Japanese. But, that wasn't really anything racist at all. :)

Anonymous said...

Two words: Randolph Hearst. "Scam on CNMI taxpayers?"

Jeff said...

"I just and still think its wrong for teachers and education officials to become immigration nazis."

I teach all these kids to the best of my ability. I have nothing to do with immigration, and not suggesting we do. I am suggesting they do their job better. People are running a homestay business and taking advantage of the system. I'm pretty sure overstaying your visa is illegal. We all know the purpose of a tourist visa, and it isn't this. I'm handed a near impossible situation and left alone to handle it. Most teachers are. I occasionally grow frustrated with this situation. I frankly would be happy to teach all ESL, but to have a class so large, and so intellectually diverse, with no time to prepare 15 different lessons, is frustrating for me and some of the students.

"And the tenor of the article was just that, especially the suggestion by Herman Pan to add charges to aliens, and especially your rant that half of the Koreans in your class are probably illegal."

I didn't write the article, and I'm not responsible for its tenor. Read my blog post. Go with that.

They probably are illegal.They've volunteered as much in their own essays. I'm not so good at ignoring reality.

Disagree all you want. I wouldn't complain about that. But do you really have to lie about my position? Do you really have to call someone in an international mariage who adopted two brown kids and lived in Korea for two years, helping hundreds learn the language, an ignorant racist in your headline?

Should illegals on tourist visas be in our schools is the debate. You seem to think they should. I don't. That's the debate. It's a debate raging in the states. You went for the "we're a buch of ignorant racists" who hate Koreans line of BS.

Saipan Writer said...

Kimchee anon-10:41. You've lost me. :-)

Jeff. Perhaps there's just something in the air that nobody can get other people's positions straight today.

I make it clear in my blog comments, I believe, that I don't think tourists should be in the classes. They don't live here, they have no right to a free public education.

Children who are undocumented or illegal are a different story. If they live here, they get a free education, whether they are illegal or not.

And the job of tracking down who is subject to tourist limitations or who has overstayed belongs to immigration, although school administrations certainly can have neutral rules for proving eligibility to enter the school, like those Boni set forth in her comment.

I based my blog on the Variety article. You didn't write it, but that's what I responded to, that's what most people are reading--the paper. I took your quotes as presented there. And it's the tenor of the article in the Variety that I dispute.

Perhaps your comments were taken out of context and set against Herman Pan's for dramatic effect. It sure has produced a lot of drama in this small corner of the blogosphere.

I admire you and all the teachers who go into our over-crowded classrooms and teach. That's probably why I hold you to a high standard.

And I think this topic--about alien kids in the classroom, illegal or tourist, would make a good topic for the AG's cup.

Thanks for stopping by.

BoReGo said...

I think Jeff got misrepresented in a big way. I also think that Jane has an enormous heart. I'm not always so optimistic, but I truly like these two people and think that this matter could use some healthy discussion, which is exactly what we're doing. It will get ironed out, but before that, like everything else here, it will get ripped to shreds, misread and then become an entirely different animal.

Jeff said...

"I make it clear in my blog comments, I believe, that I don't think tourists should be in the classes. They don't live here, they have no right to a free public education."

Then we agree Jane. The opening disclaimer in my blog post, which the Variety based its story on completely, I talked to the editor after it was written, mainly using my blog, and told him to make sure it was clear I wasn't against Koreans, which I'm not, I'm against the scam I described. That's where you got your "denial." The disclaimer says this isn't directed at Koreans, it is directed at people entering on tourist visas for free English lessons in PSS. There are 28 comments on that post, somebody read it Jane. You know where my blog is, and should have done the same before saying what you did. Are you so naive not to realize the media creates drama and often loses little details?

These students aren't in this category at all, "Children who are undocumented or illegal are a different story."

I've lived in Korea for two years and understand distinctly the cultural reasons for why they are doing this. You'd have gotten that context, which I related, if you read my blog post, which was out for days before someone, not me, thought it was a newspaper story.

If we had ESL classes, which lots of kids need, not just Koreans, maybe this all wouldn't be so frustrating. There is no money for it, and there won't be anytime soon. An english teacher in the states would probably have half the students I have with block scheduling. They'd have 3 preps of 20-22, I have four of 30-33. I'm doing the job of two teachers quite literally. Right now I have 120 plus kids, no prep period, all in the throes of puberty, and I've just spent my ninth day trying to straighten out the difference between plural and possessive -- maybe 1/3 can't get it right consistenly -- that's a product of little discipline and overcrowding at Hopwood, which has had massive teacher turnover and admnistrative shifts.

Teaching here is a job that requires intense one on one instruction - with 120 plus. A lecture, even a short one, completely goes in one ear and out the other of about half the population. It's the ninth day and I feel overwhelmed already. I'm about to become one of those statistics you read about former teachers because with seniors of similar abilities who were more mature I was able to pull this off putting in the intensity I do, but apparently I can't with freshmen that I've been switched to.

ERiCA said...

It's never smart, fair, or ethical to say students of a race or ethnicity are a problem in the schools. Not by teachers. Not by Board members. Not by Americans.

Amen. And saying their poor English is the problem, is a ridiculous excuse. That'd be like saying hyperactive kids are too distracting to be in the class, or that teachers spend too much time explaining stuff to the dyslexic kids. Aargh.

Hope things get sorted out...

Brad said...

Wow....I really can't believe someone could try to twist another person's words so much, then turn around and basically agree with them...then say stuff about respecting and admiring them for their work and effort, yet still not apologize for falsely accusing them of ignorance and racism. RACISM! (That's not something people should be lightly accused of.)

But that's exactly what has happened here. I don't know who you are Saipan Writer...sounds like you must be a lawyer...but you don't impress the first time reader with your fancy footwork. You owe Jeff an apology for misrepresentation.

I can't say I was really 'a friend' of Jeff's in Korea. I met him twice, briefly. But I can say we have a mutual friend who is Korean. When I arrived in Korea, this guy (Cho Dong Hee or "Kurt") could not say enough about his 'buddy Jeff'. He still goes on and on about how great of a friend Jeff was to him while Jeff was in Korea. He was truly touched by Jeff's acceptance of him as a friend. That doesn't sound like the behavior of someone who is racist against Koreans.

But I think you know you were out of line there and I think you know you need to retract the accusation and issue an apology...but you're sticking with an attitude of indignation to avoid that...or just dancing around the issues to avoid facing it. Ok, good luck with that.

I CAN comment on the fact that Jeff made a very, very correct statement when he said the one particular student that was stuck in his class yet can't speak any English needs one-on-one instruction (which I think is impossible in the PSS's current situation). I'm currently a teacher in Korea. And I love my students. I mean that. I teach one-on-one with some students (or small groups of up to 4) and I also teach large classes at a church. Some students need a small group, some are ready for large group participation, interaction and learning.

Because I really want to help my students continually improve, sometimes I've told parents they should seek individual instruction outside of the large class. I've had to tell some parents their child is below their classmates' level. When a student is lost in class, unable to understand the teacher at all (such as the student Jeff pointed out) the student gets frustrated and embarrassed. Resentment starts to grow and they may actually begin to resent being "forced" to study English. It's not a good feeling for any student and it's not conducive to the learning experience. If the student really cannot speak ANY English (and I believe Jeff knows about the various "levels" so I'll believe him) then for the good of the student he/she should be getting special one-on-one instruction from a teacher that is fluent in both languages. As Jeff said. They should not be thrust into a high school level class in a 'sink or swim' attitude. If the student happens to "sink" will they feel better because you helped keep them in the wrong class, the wrong school? Will you feel better?

Although well intentioned, I've seen many parents try that here in Korea with the idea that if they can enroll their kid in the highest level class for a few weeks they'll magically 'catch up' with students who have spent years more studying English. The PSS is not Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. That student can't drink some magic potion or eat some magical jelly bean and instantly have language abilities that take years of hard work to develop.

G said...

thank you erica. enough is enough. people defend this without stepping back and truly seeing what they are writing. thank you again.


Jeff said...
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Jeff said...
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Jeff said...
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Jeff said...

I never said students of a particular race are a problem. Nobody did. Jane lied from the beginning to create drama, and you Glen are using it to create a false argument. I think you know this, too. I said people enrolling in schools on a tourist visa on a homestay program is a scam. That Korean tourists enroll in an underfunded school without an ESL program and no English ability enroll like this it is a problem because high school isn't a free Korean hagwon. Erica probably didn't do the reading to see that these are Jane's lies. The actual argument I made was too complicated for Jane to create outrage, so she embellished it with things no one said. This is why she has been dishonest in this debate. Glen knows this too, but tries to advance this straw man because he is tina sablan's boyfriend, and she and angelo had a major falling out, and Angelo is my friend, not to mention tina and cinta don't like each other, and angelo and cinta are tight, and I've been supportive of cinta, as most thinking people are here. I don't know why Jane felt the need to make up stories. I guess I'm not idelogically pure enough for her. She took me off her links months ago for whatever reason. I'm guessing she didn't agree with everything I said. Of course I post links to conscientious people I don't agree with like Bruce Bateman, but Jane can link to whomever she wants of course. Let's all now officially cut the crap.

G said...


after that last post i can only say, "thank god, i don't have children being taught by you."

petty, uncalled for, incorrect, senseless dribble.

an people wonder why others post anonymously. it is exactly because of this bullcrap. i have posted only with comments regarding the issues raised in this blog. at no point did i personally attack anyone (at least not knowingly).

damn, jeff, you are teacher. you should know better than this. reread all my posts both here and on your blog. i was addressing a problem. if you want to take personal issue with me and disregard the issue and point out who you think i am then so be it. but according to what you wrote i may as be anonymous because you do not know who i am. dman you are an immature individual. re-read your posts and take a step back and see how truly childish they are.

and speaking of all those great connections you have linked to why i would... hmmm... i don't know what am i doing, other than responding to issues posted on a blog?

Saipan Writer said...

Our schools are overcrowded and underfunded. The mandate is to provide an education to all resident children.

One of the practical problems with schools requiring residency as a prerequisite to registration is figuring out a "test" or qualification that can be used to determine residency.

People can be living here on tourist visas, renewing them regularly to keep a "legal" status, and still be actually living here as "residents." People can can be living here without documents, the undocumented alien, and be "residents."

These people would be residents for purposes of school registration and under the U.S. Constitution, but they're hard to distinguish from the temporary tourist who comes in for a month or two, seeking language lessons. That distinction is especially difficult to discern at the beginning of the school year.

The clearest indication might be after a student leaves, with only a short time in the CNMI, and no request or need for transcripts. But even this scenario happens (albeit infrequently) with U.S. citizen children, when parents decide that things aren't working out and it was a mistake to come here. Or local parents withdraw their children after a few days or weeks in Kindergarten or 1st grade. And then they move away to another place with a later date for school opening so they don't bother with the records.

So I don't know what the schools can do better to limit admission to resident children.

Lax enforcement of immigration may contribute to the problem of tourists in the classroom. The cultural values or perceptions of different people may contribute to the problem of tourists in the classroom. We could possibly do something about the former, less about the latter.

But I think the solution is not the BOE looking into the immigration status of students as proposed by Herman Pan, which is unconstitutional. And I think the focus on alien students distracts us from the solutions that can be found to the overcrowding, the inadequate support, the lack of teachers, the weaknesses of the foundation our students are getting in the lower grades, the language barriers and the different learning levels of students lumped together in classes. I think a discussion that focuses on the race or alieange of our students takes us off-course. And I think the focus on alienage and the focus on a "scam" by foreigners smacks of racism.

That discussion is taking place at PSS.

Jeff has defended himself against accusations I didn't make, calling me a liar. So be it. I'm not apologizing.

I think he should apologize.

I think that racism isn't about intent.

Racism is about perception, and when others perceive what we do as having elements of racism in them, we need to be sensitive to that. We need to acknowledge the reality of it. We need to apologize. We need to change the way we speak to get at the heart of what we really mean.

I think this discussion has been good. I've learned about problems in the schools I hadn't been aware of, and I've heard corroboration for other problems I already knew about. I hope that we, as a community, refocus on our educational goals. And I hope that all the teachers get more support in the classrooms. They need it. Our kids need it. We need it.

Jeff said...

"It's never smart, fair, or ethical to say students of a race or ethnicity are a problem in the schools. Not by teachers. Not by Board members. Not by Americans."

You just endorsed this Glen, which you know no one did after we just had this big discussion.

What part exactly was wrong? Name one.

I'm glad you're not teaching, and instead are marketing beer.

Jane you did lie, embellish and misrepresent for a good story. We could have had a better debate on this if you dealt with it a little more honestly.

This will be the last I have to say about this.

Brad said...

I have an honest question because I really don't know the answer.

Does Saipan actually issue "Tourist Visas"? My wife, a Korean, did not apply for or have any kind of visa when we visited Saipan. She doesn't have a U.S. Immigrant Visa yet either. She says, as far as she knows, Koreans are allowed a 1 month stay with no visa whatsoever.

For Koreans to visit the States, it's much more difficult. They must apply in advance of the visit at the Korean embassy and even interview. If approved, they're given a travel visa and can enter the States.

Does Saipan do that? I didn't think so, yet I keep hearing people talk about tourist visas. Where is the visa? They are just tourists, aren't they? Excuse my ignorance on this issue and the exact meaning f "Visa". If the entry stamp at the airport is actually a visa, I guess that explains it.

Saipan Writer wrote:
"Racism is about perception, and when others perceive what we do as having elements of racism in them, we need to be sensitive to that. We need to acknowledge the reality of it. We need to apologize."

I took offense when I read your accusation of "the other Brad" (Brad in the Sand)as being racist because he said he was American. You linked "American" to "White" and I take great offense to that because my children will be American and they certainly will not be white. You tried to turn "American" into a race. Did you apologize (as you say people should when they are "percieved" to have made a racist comment).

Also, Glen you seem to conveniently ignore the fact that "Korean" has two meanings: (1)race OR (2)Nationality/citizenship. Not all Koreans are of the

"mix of the Altaic, the Lake Baikal, and the East Asia Lowlands (the Jomon people - the ancestors of today's Ainus of Japan) tribes"

quick google search (term: korean race) - first link: http://www.asianresearch.org/articles/1943.html"
that you quoted.

G...why did you do a google search of "Korean RACE"...Where did Jeff say "Korean RACE"? Show me the exactly line. So, that alone shows me you and the Saipan Writer have tried your best to make this a racial issue...which it was not. Playing the race card for your personally enjoyment or the thrill of trying to create a mob frenzy only lessens the reaction we should have when we come upon real instances of racism. Remember the boy who cried wolf story? Maybe you should review it.

Brad said...

I should have said, not always is the word "Korean" used to mean race. Sometimes it is used in it's other legitimate definition: nationality.

Jeff was clearly and consistently talking about foreign students who do not contribute anything (through student visa application fees, taxes, etc) to the Saipan PSS and are only here for short time 'tourist stays' to take advantage of the free schooling.

Silly Socrates said...

Why does Turbitt have to put up a picture of Kimchi? Isn't that an attack against Korean culture as a whole, instead of focusing merely on tourist students (mostly Korean, but not all) who are attending PSS?

Suppose, we see a tirade against Americans who come to Saudi Arabia as tourists and set up illegal bank accounts. An Arabian writes an article about Americans who do stuff like that, and puts up a picture of Thanksgiving Holiday celebrations, hotdogs, and baseball games. Is that not an attack against Americans?

And why use the word "scam"? And is "fucked up" the right word to develop and promote a good healthy discourse?

So what is his "fucked up" solution to this? Immediately kick students out of school?

Anonymous said...

Saipan Writer: don't marginalize "racism" by using it to simply attack people with whom you disagree. Racism takes many forms, but racism is NOT identifying (whether right or wrong) a perceived problem and discussing it thoughtfully in an open arena. It is people like you that stifle constructive discussion by applying unnecessary, inaccurate, and inflammatory labels. It is people like you who cause people like me to post anonymously. I'm not a racist, but I sure as hell don't need you telling the world I am just because you disagree with my viewpoint. I disagree with about 100% of what Jeff Turbitt has written to date, but I'll defend his right to say it without people like you attacking him as a "racist." Disagree on the substance if you want, but grow up, at least intellectually. Stop name calling. On the plus side, attacks such as yours do more to discredit the "liberal" agenda with which you clearly identify more effectively than I or anyone else who respectfully disagrees with you ever could.

Saipan Writer said...

I don't think I ever accused the other Brad of being racist, because he is American or otherwise. If I did, I apologize.

My post was not attacking people, but attacking what was said, how it was said, and why it was said. I named the people who made the statements. I explained why I think it's wrong. I labeled the blog entry as ignorance and racism at PSS.

I have no problem identifying problems and discussing them thoughtfully. I think, despite all the hot-headedness, that's basically what's been going on--with Jeff's blog entry, with my response, with the comments in both threads.

And despite last anon's belief that this open debate discredits liberal thought and perspectives, I think it advances understanding, sensitivity, and refocusing on the problems we need to be addressing.

'nuf said.

bradinthesand said...
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bradinthesand said...

“And so we turn to the easy scapegoat--those damn foreignors.”

Is there a distinct difference between racism and xenophobia?

“And that means, educators in the classroom and our education officials on the Board, should NOT be looking to our foreign students as the problem that needs to be fixed, should not be saying we need to tack on additional fees for immigrants, should not be complaining about those poor-English speakers in their classrooms.”

It’s not that the students are foreigners, it’s that the non-residents who don’t pay into the system avail of the benefits of said system. And the fact that people (wherever they’re from) are doing so intentionally doesn’t strike you as a problem at all?

Hey, kids can’t go to any of the private schools without paying for it. The same should go to public schools. No, I’m not saying to direct bill the parents for the cost of education, but that’s in effect what we pay taxes for, isn’t it? I mean, PSS is run by tax dollars and people who live here pay those taxes. So, keeping on that train of thought, should people who aren’t paying into the system still receive the same benefits?

I don’t care if they’re from, well anywhere for that matter, I just don’t think it’s right.

I love the Saipan International School, but I’m going to have to pay for my kids to go there and receive a quality education. Why should kids who don’t live here legally get the benefit of public schooling when it takes time and quality of education away from the resident children?

I know the ruling but I don’t agree with it at all…

“Because education is vitally important. Because we need our teachers to be nice to our kids.”

Agreed, wholeheartedly. But this isn’t something that should be left up to the teachers to deal with. (Get ready for a generalization) Our teachers already do the best they can with extremely limited resources. I mean, Jeff just received an anonymous donation to paint his classroom that would have otherwise gone unpainted had he and a few volunteers not put in the elbow grease to fix it up. That is wonderful and horrible at the same time. Then he has to deal with problem children who cant’ ead or write the English language and honor students in the same classrooms. Hats off to them teacher folk!

Now they’re being asked to teach High School English courses to kids who don’t know the language at all? How do you teach the finer points of grammar and literature to your class when you have kids who need to learn our alphabet sitting in the same room?

I guess that’s why teacher get the big bucks, er, should get the big bucks but don’t.

“We need our kids to learn to live in a multi-cultural society without always jumping down the throats of those who are different.”

Again, you’re right 100%. But in this instance it’s not about being different, it’s about not understanding a thing the teachers are saying. The kids from other countries should first be able to pass an English competency class to see where they should be placed. They do the same for college, why not for the rest of the kids?

Granted, there are plenty of problems with that scenario, but there’s got to be a better way to deal with the students who can’t speak English other than sticking in a classroom with kids their own age and asking their teachers to “figure it out.”

What you should be horrified with is that a teacher had to blog about it and the local paper had to write about it before PSS reacted to it at all!

“It's never smart, fair, or ethical to say students of a race or ethnicity are a problem in the schools. Not by teachers. Not by Board members. Not by Americans.”

I agree with that 100%!

I just don’t think that the Public Schools System is anti-any ethnicity. Jeff either.

“And worse--How many "local boys" will take this as a signal to beat up on Koreans?”

My guess is probably none. But this sounds like a racial comment itself…

...but I'm sure you're not a racist. I say that with sincerity, but you could see how that might be taken, right?

Kim chi jigae said...

Maybe he used kim chi because it's more colorful than galbi.

Anonymous said...

well as a "local-boy", i actually do find that comment offensive as brad pointed out. and i hadn't intended to post, but thought that it might help illustrate his point that sometimes we write things that we didnt intend to be racist but that others might just find it to be so.

alternative education said...

The cure is simple: get the government out of the education business. Government schools, trying to teach the party line to as many innocent young untrained minds as they can get their hands on is the problem, not the solution to an educated electorate.

The key here is 'as many as they can get their hands on'. Meaning most of the hand wringing going on in this blog post is about getting as many of the little buggers as you can in front of you so you can indoctrinate them. It is about maximizing the enrollment, then complaining about it to try and get more funds to deal with them.

Saipan Writer said...

Brad in the Sand said: “And worse--How many "local boys" will take this as a signal to beat up on Koreans?”

My guess is probably none. But this sounds like a racial comment itself…

Touche and ouch.

My apologies. I'm removing that immediately. I acknowledge it was over-reactive, sounds racist, and also sexist. And it's gone as of now.

bradinthesand said...

...and it was nice to see you at lunch today. I was with the boss this afternoon but next time would enjoy sharing a table.

Saipan Writer said...

Brad in the Sand, Thank you for the invitation. Anytime.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Jeff the teacher needs to look at his own sponsorship schemes; that would never fly in any other U.S.immigration jurisdiction save perhaps Amerika Samoa. You know bringing over, si Nanay, and then you try Tatay, and Manong... Oh but let's stick to people of a Korean background to pin these "scams." Yes, some of your "friends are Koreans." Where have I heard this before? All in the Family Duba?


Sam Choi

Jeff said...

That might have some slight relevance if I brought somebody over here other than my mother in law for a short visit, or had any interest in doing so, but nice story to invent.

Saipan Writer said...

I don't think it has any relevance, either, because I think it is not a scam to sponsor relatives when you have the money to support them, the law allows you to do it, and you complete the necessary paperwork. That's just following the law to do what is clearly encompassed by it and anticipated. No scam at all, Jeff, even if you or anyone else brings in family. That's legal, not a scam.

Anonymous said...

jane from what i gather i think you are right. jeff wants us to enter into the jeff spin zone.

Anonymous said...

it's a shame that jeff can accuse other people of being "racist" but back peddle on this one. maybe he's not a racist but had a bad experience with "kimchee." diba.