New Classes Target Teen Immigrants

Mexican government has hand in classes for Spanish-speaking kids

The government of Mexico has teamed with Aurora Public Schools to launch an alternative school for Spanish-speaking teens, the first such venture in the United States. The pilot class will be Monday at William Smith High School, an alternative school.

Three-hour classes will run four days a week, said David Wood, executive director of the Aurora student services department. The bilingual instruction for the immigrant students between 15 and 21 will cover a broad range from the alphabet to core subjects such as reading, math, civics, English and American history and government. Students will study Spanish and Mexican history as well. ”We’re talking about 15-year-olds who possibly never had schooling in their own country,” said Wood, who signed the accord with Mexican diplomats at the office of the consul general of Mexico in Denver Thursday. ”We’re talking about some students who can’t read. This program will be a real fast track.” The Mexican Cultural Center, which is under the Consul General of Mexico in Denver, has been recruiting and screening students. Marcela de la Mar, director of the center, said her office has received about 100 inquiries about enrolling in the alternative school. The National Institute for Adult Education in Mexico has donated textbooks and materials. A Mexican teacher will be transferred from the national institute to work with an Aurora high school instructor, officials said. School district and Mexican government officials emphasized the program will be open only to young people between 15 and 21 living in Aurora. Educators said they hope to start with a class of about 20 pupils. Aurora schools initiated discussions with Mexico’s cultural center several months ago to develop an alternative school for immigrant teens. The talks started after Mexico’s education ministry donated 11,000 Spanish texts to schools and migrant communities in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. Colorado education officials and Mexico’s consul general said they hope other districts will pursue similar pilot projects. ”I would like to see this duplicated with other school districts,” said Patricia M. Hayes, chairwoman of the state Board of Education. Many Mexican immigrants come from poor, isolated communities, educators said.

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