Even affluent Montgomery County, Maryland (median household income $94,965) may feel the strain of meeting educational and other needs of the illegal immigrant children being sent from the Texas border to communities around the country.
“Enrollment in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) has increased by 860 students in the past three years and will be further challenged by the addition of new international students,” WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., said in reporting on Tuesday’s meeting of the Montgomery County Council in Rockville, Maryland. The county, whose Washington suburbs include the “sanctuary city” of Takoma Park, has enrolled more than 100 of the unaccompanied minors from Central America in its school system since they began arriving in record numbers at the U.S. southern border last fall. Language barriers are only one of the concerns the Montgomery County public schools must address in meeting the educational needs of the recent arrivals.
“All of the unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador enrolling in MCPS [Maryland County Public Schools] do qualify for enrollment in the ESOL program where they receive instruction in English as a new language, as well as parent engagement and counseling supports,” said Karen Woodson, ESOL director for public schools in the county, which is home to about half of all immigrants in Maryland and has the state’s largest Latino community.
“Montgomery County has always been a place that’s welcomed and really addressed some of the challenges associated with minors that might be unaccompanied or trying to reconnect with family members that are here in the area,” County Council President Craig Rice said.
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