“Qatar out of our schools”- Arabic Immersion in Texas

Arabic 1

Last week was the first week of school for many K-12 and college students across Texas. In Houston, last week was the first week of school for HISD’s new Arabic Immersion Magnet School. Though the district and superintendent Terry Grier were proud of the new school and its potential unique educational value for students, some Houstonians opposed and protested the opening of the school.

On Monday August 26th, students and parents were welcomed by protesters who believe the school’s half Arabic, half English immersion structure to be “anti-American.” The Arabic Immersion school is not the first immersion school in the district, but it is however the first that has been met with such opposition. In 2012 there were no protesters at the site of the opening of HISD’s Mandarin Immersion School.

According to the Chron.com, “Arabic was the second most common language other than English spoken by HISD families last school year.”  The Arabic-speaking population in the greater Houston area has increasingly grown since 2009 to over 20,000 people. Also, Houston is the nation’s energy capital, and most people believe it is beneficial to have graduates who can speak multiple languages, in particular those popular among countries included in the energy industry.

On August 26th, there were about 30 adult protesters outside of the school, who held signs including phrases such as “Qatar out of our school,” “American Schools American Kids,” and “Everything I ever cared to know about Islam was taught to me by Muslims on 9-11-2001.”

As expected, many people including school officials took to social media (twitter) to voice concerns, opposition, and support of Arabic Immersion education as well as increasing immersion programs across the district.

Personally, I think immersion programs are a huge benefit to students, families, society, and the business industries. It is unfortunate that students, teachers, and parents were subjected to this ignorance from the “protesters.” There signs indicate a lack of knowledge regarding the current and growing diversity in Houston…
Arabic 2 Arabic 3 Arabic 4 Arabic 5

 

Photo and Information Sources: The Houston Chronicle

Leave a Reply