North Minneapolis Hmong students enrolled in Hopkins and Wayzata schools are undergoing a series of State Capitol visits to talk with elected officials in an attempt to preserve the Choice In Yours transportation money that enables them to attend these schools.
The Minnesota senate education committee has voted to cut the transportation money enabling suburban bus rides for 2012. The house education committee has voted to keep the funding. If the senate version stands, these students will be forced to drop out of Hopkins and Wayzata.
With two visits completed on March 28 and April 6, the students will make another attempt on April 25.
Currently, there are about 60 Hmong students at Hopkins and about 20 at Wayzata. In their letter to the elected officials, the Hmong students say:
“Most of us came to the United States in 2004 and 2005 from a Thai refugee camp. Our families fought with the Americans in the Vietnam war, saving downed pilots and blocking Communist soldiers and weapons from getting to South Vietnam. Many of our relatives died in the war.
“In 1975 the Communists won the war and our families had to flee Laos or be shot. For years we waited in Thai refugee camps for the opportunity to come to the United States and build better lives for our families.
“We are working hard to be successful. We want to learn English as fast as possible, and we chose to go to Hopkins and Wayzata schools because we are surrounded by English speaking students. Our classes are smaller, we have more class offerings, and our classes are more challenging.
“The students we are with study hard to go to college, and it makes us study harder too. We have many American friends, we feel safe in our schools, and we like our teachers. Many of us play Hopkins badminton every week.
“We love the freedoms we have here in America, and we love the educational opportunities the people of Minnesota have given us. We study very hard, and want to go to college and build successful lives. Some Hmong Hopkins and Wayzata students have already gotten into college. And we hope that through hard work we will make a strong contribution to our community and our country.”
Article submitted Jay Clark, University Of Minnesota.