ST. PAUL (April 5, 2012) — Last week 25 North Minneapolis Hmong students visited the Minnesota state capitol.
All these students go to school in the Hopkins and Wayzata school systems, and they went to the capitol to urge the legislators to continue to support their school bus transportation.
The Hmong fought with the Americans in the Vietnam war, saving many downed pilots. After being forced to flee Laos in 1975, many Hmong families were trapped for decades in Thai refugee camps. In 2005 the last Hmong refugee camp closed, and hundreds of Hmong came from Thailand to North Minneapolis.
Beginning In the 2007-2008 school year, some of these newly arrived Hmong refugee students started entering the Hopkins and Wayzata school systems. They wanted to learn English as fast as possible and get a quality education enabling them to go to college. Bus transportation has been provided through the Choice Is Yours program.
The students talked with close to 20 legislators, including all but one of the Minneapolis senators. They also flyered every legislator. They told legislators that they like going to Hopkins and Wayzata because they are surrounded by English speakers, take very challenging classes, and get lots of help from their teachers.
The students explained that their classes are smaller, they have more class offerings, and because the other students in their classes study hard to go to college, and it pushes the Hmong students to study harder also.
For the past three school years, the University of Minnesota has been studying the progress of these Hmong refugee students in the Hopkins school system. In a soon-to-be published report, the researchers conclude that the Hmong refugee students are succeeding at Hopkins.
The study shows needs for supportive, competent teachers go out of their way to help students during and after school. It illustrates that students are pushed hard in mainstream classes, and specialized staff give additional help on the hardest courses such as history and science.
The study shows that the student academic English continues to steadily improve. It states that students are thriving in science classes and ELL classes.
The Students say they value the abundance of academic activities, both during school and after school, that are helping their academic success. Their achievement data shows they are making steady academic progress.
With the help of an excellent education, the first Hopkins Hmong refugee student entered the University of Minnesota this fall.
When KaoXue Vang first landed with her family at the Minneapolis airport in 2004, the only English word she knew was ‘love’. She has succeeded through hard work and supportive and challenging teachers. On Sunday nights KaoXue now tutors other Hopkins and Wayzata Hmong refugee children, helping them achieve academic success.
The Hmong students spent hours trudging up and down the capitol steps talking with legislators. But they consider the effort to be worth it if they can continue their studies at Hopkins and Wayzata.