Diversity is a Good Thing

100619_142453_0.pngDiversity is a Good Thing

As we get ready to start school for the 2016-2017 academic year, it's important to reflect for a bit on just what is happening in schools and why diversity is a good thing for schools and communities.

At the end of the school year last year, Bonnie Washuk of the Lewiston Sun Journal wrote an interesting article on the impact of immigrants on the Lewiston High School graduation rates.  (Immigrants' Work Ethic)  Please note, you may need an account at the Lewiston Sun Journal to read the article - well worth reading.

In the article she reviews the increasing number of English Language Learners who are graduating from Lewiston High School. She also notes the words of Principal Shawn Chabot. "It’s a credit to that population and their willingness to work hard,” he said. Many immigrant families “value education and see it as an opportunity, whereas some of the non-ELL families may take it for granted."

Chabot continues later in the article, "This tremendous improvement is a testament to both the value that our immigrant families place on education, and the strength of our ELL program. I want to be clear, however, that we still have much work before us."

It's the inclusive practices that Chabot discusses that make all the difference in the world. "We see them as the totality of who we are, he said. "The bottom line is they're all our kids.  I want them to all be successful and hold the standards so the diploma means something. We're not just handing it out."

Diversity, inclusion, standards - meeting students where they are at and then advancing learning.  That's as it should be.  There is not a single pathway to success, and Lewiston is doing the job of educating its diverse population.

Yet, there's more than that.  Our new residents make our community stronger.  There's no denying the challenges that have pervaded much of the community in the past.  Yet those challenges are not just a part of the current new residents - Lewiston has a history of new residents - immigrants from "away" who in their own way made the community stronger and better.

The real learning from all this is that the community is enhanced by the inclusion of its new residents.

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