Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Didn't we abolish segregation?

My friend Rob sent me this link from NY1 News about how the City School Board is opening an Arabic Public School in Brooklyn . According to the Article, the Khalil Gibran International Academy will enroll a diverse student body, even though many courses will be taught in Arabic. While I think that it is great that Brooklyn's burgeoning Arabic-speaking population has a school of its own, I think that this is a bad idea for two primary reasons.

Firstly, all 60's-style segregation arguments aside, this school is only going to work to segregate the Arabic community from the rest of New York. The point of Public school is to blend the diverse ethnic groups in a community so that members learn about each others cultures and appreciate them, while preserving their own. How does this accomplish that? Yes they want to enroll a diverse group of students, but how many Jews, Asians, Italians, and Hispanics will send their kids to this school? How is teaching in Arabic any different from Teaching in Spanish? I understand that some of these new immigrant students need extra help learning ESL, but we should accomodate that so that they gain fluency in English, and not Arabic. If they stay in the US, how will it help them to learn Algebra in Arabic? While I am all for teaching Arabic language and culture in regular public schools, and giving native Arab speakers some help in their native language, this concept, IMVHO, is counter-productive to societal integration of an ethnic group that already has issues with societal integration.

Secondly, this opens the door for creating, essentially, state-sponsored ethnic schools. Okay, fine, the board of ed insists that the school will have a 'diverse' student body. Let's say for arguments sake, the first year, there are a bunch of Asian kids in that school. Their parents get involved, and see how there is this rich Arabic curriculum, in both language and culture and realize its their tax dollars paying for it. They then say amongst themselves that we need to create something similar for Asian culture. They lobby the board of ed, and the 'Mandarin and Cantonese' academy is born. They pull their kids out of the Arabic school, and put them into M and C. This kills the diversity at the Arabic School, but that's okay, because all of the wait listed Arabic speakers now have spaces. After the Asians, the Spanish-Speakers follow suit, and then the Jews, etc. Until we've completely killed the diversity of our public education system.

Maybe this is a little extreme, but is it really that far-fetched? If a couple of smart Jews lobby the Board of Ed to create a similar Hebrew School that promoted Hebrew Culture. That taught nothing of a Religious nature, I would gladly move back to the city and enroll my kids there and give them religious instruction in an afterschool program?

I think this is a bad idea, and I am eager to see how it fares.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why do we have to treat them?

I have been away for too long. Both from blogging and from being in the loop on what goes on in Israel. I spent a few minutes today to try to see what's been going on in Israel. Of course there is a lot going on, a debate about repairs on part of the temple mount, the ongoing Hamas-Fatah war, etc.

Then I came across this news article from Arutz Sheva about how 60 or so wounded palestinians were treated in Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. They quoted an injured Israeli woman in the hospital asking why do we need to treat them? To her credit, I can only begin to imagine her frustration - living in fear of Kassams falling on her rooftop every night, so I am not going to question her motives. But I will do my best, sitting in my comfortable American home to explain - we treat them, because unlike them, we actually value human life.

Yes it is very easy for me to say this from my comfortable home in the United States, but I would like to think that my thoughts wouldn't be any different if I lived in Israel, and served in the IDF. Every human life - even those of terrorist bastards - is precious, and we must do our best to preserve them.

Would they give our wounded the same treatment? The same level of service? (or at least the best available?). That is irrelevant. We are not them. We are humans, and we are commanded by G-d to revere all of his creations with respect.