Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lowrie Elementary...

…is a grade school on the near west side of Elgin. It has a history of parental involvement. In fact, their effort to keep the school open in the mid-1990s is a textbook example of how to conduct a community campaign.

The execution of the plan was nearly flawless. They had studied everything they could get their hands on to justify their request to keep Lowrie open. They studied demographic trends. They studied the costs associated with bussing if their kids were farmed out to other schools. They studied renovation/upgrade costs.

They also did some layout work to prove to the district that the old building could be brought up to life/safety standards, the main reason the district wanted to close it down.

A key element was that the school principal was in favor of the effort and had the courage to say so. Most administrators would have kept silent and supported the decision downtown. But he spoke up.

And an articulate group of parents showed up at school board meetings for several months to get the job done.

In the end Lowrie got their wish. The school was saved and the upgrades were made.

Now, here we are with another Lowrie campaign. It seems that the parents are upset with all the shuffling going on these days. They are moving kids around and canceling morning kindergarten. They are combining grades which causes parents to believe it will harm their children’s future. And all the district is offering is to send the kids to an alternate school. (Wait, you’re asking ME to move?)

What these parents aren’t saying now (perhaps due to political correctness) is that the problem can be traced directly to an influx of children of foreign-born parents, 30% of whom are in this country illegally.

Keep in mind it was a neighborhood school then and it still is today. In 1998, Lowrie had 351 students. 185 were white, 34 were black, and 127 were Hispanic. By 2001, the whites became the minority with 180, blacks fell to 22, and 196 were Hispanic.

By 2006 the white population was 99, blacks crept back up to 30, and Hispanics dominated with 288 students.

Indicators of foreign-born immigrants are low income and limited English proficiency. Lets look at Lowrie in those areas. First, low income:
1998 – 115 students (32.8%)
2001 – 255 students (55.0%)
2006 – 290 students (67.0%)!

Now, limited English proficiency (read: children of families who have been in the USA less than five years):
1998 – 96 students (27.4%)
2001 – 132 students (32.8%)
2006 – 169 students (39.0%)

There is no hiding the fact that the white enrollment has dropped by nearly 45% and the Hispanic student population has grown by nearly 47% in the last five years.

Couple that with the fact that the school district derives 60% of its revenue from property tax bills. In a normal world empty nesters would have funded the slow growth of US-born students at that school.

But in reality you have foreign-born families who commonly have more than one family sharing a single-family home, coupled with a higher birth rate. When this happens (as it has all over this area) you have the double whammy of less revenue from real estate taxes and more children placing demands on the school.

The limited English component means that classrooms, teachers, and textbooks are now devoted to bilingual education.

But be careful what you say; you may be labeled a racist for complaining that you’ve paid into this system all your adult life and now they are asking you to go to another school or make accommodations for the foreign-born.

Now, I hear them already with that, “We are all immigrants” nonsense. Just explain to them that never before have 30% of the foreign-born been illegal aliens. And when you track back to the SEVEN AMNESTY PROGRAMS over the past 21 years, you will find that nearly half of the foreign-born are either here illegally now or were illegal at one time.

There is no point in complaining to the school board. The courts have ruled that districts must educate the children of illegals in a language they can understand.

But the city and the state CAN and SHOULD do some things. And we all ought to be giving Washington an earful.

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