The truth about Patchogue schools and Hispanic students

KW: I had the article below saved in my papers about school districts who do not do right by students. I found it incredibly interesting based on the recent hate crime in Patchogue, and my perception about the attitudes of Superintendent Michael Mostow as expressed at the Division of Human Rights/Mayor’s community meeting last Thursday.

Note that in the article below, which is from last year, the Superintendent of Patchogue-Medford Schools confuses the issue of legal immigrants — people who may be American citizens who speak Spanish because they are new to this country or live in a Spanish-speaking household — with illegal immigrants interchangeably. That is because the article assigns the costs of English as a Second Language classes to illegal immigration. In addition, the crux of the article and the opinions in it expressed by Superintendent Michael Mostow is that we should not as a community have to educate students who are illegal immigrants. What should those students do? How would his plan work? Would we return to an era such as London as portrayed in a Charles Dickens novel, with bands of stray children wandering the streets?

If the Superintendent sees these children as a burden, how does he treat them? How can he genuinely focus on nurturing and educating children he believes to be a burden? And, how could other people not inherit his attitude, when he broadcasts it in the press?

Illegal Immigration: The Cost for School Districts
Suffolk Life
By: Michelle Pirraglia
February 21, 2007


[Patchogue-Medford Superintendent of Schools Michael Mostow discusses immigrants and illegal immigrants. Please note that this article and these statements were made at school budget time, a contentious time for citizens when they feel burdened by decisions about high taxes, and when the school districts are supposed to face various forms of accountability from the public.]

[Beginning of article…]

With local school districts getting ready to unveil their proposed budgets for the 2007-8 academic year, some are expressing worry over and issue that they believe is causing school taxes to rise – illegal immigration.

[The next paragraph includes quotes attributed to Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael Mostow:]

“The truth of the matter is it’s very costly, and we get no help from the state or federal government,” said Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael Mostow. “We’re not allowed to consider whether a child is here legally or not. We’re obligated to educate them, it doesn’t matter what their status is, that’s the law.”

[Re: discussion that some people and public officials would like to see how many students are illegal, to show how much money the district is forced to spend on illegal student:]

[Michael Mostow is quoted as saying:]

“We’re not allowed to release that kind of information,” said Mostow, adding that he is now requesting the landlord’s signature as part of the enrollment process. “We’re hoping that initiative will stop multiple families from living in one home.”

[Please note: School districts are not allowed to require an affidavit from the landlord. But, many school districts have staff that will demand such an affidavit. Or, they have paperwork that either states or implies families that rent will need one. Because people who are poor may have tentative relations with the landlords, or may be renting a home that is “illegal” (not zoned properly by the landlord), renters often are afraid to provide that piece of documentation. So, some children who are eligible to go to school may be afraid to even apply, or may have their packets wrongfully rejected.]

[In addition, it is a fact that school districts have and are allowed to have inspectors and investigators that can go to people’s homes and watch and videotape students to check on residency. By Mostow referring to multiple people living in a home as a problem, he is suggesting that when he sees that situation, he could send out investigators. I have heard a school official from a nearby district state that if she sees too many people from the same house, she sends out an investigator. When people here stories like that, and don’t know what the consequences are, and are afraid of people watching their homes, they will be less likely to send their children to school. It create hostility between poor families and the schools.]

[Mostow complains about the cost that illegal immigrants make to his district. He quotes numbers and prices for ESL education as a complaint of the price of illegal immigration. From the story:]

However, Mostow said the Patchogue-Medford School District is feeling the impact of illegal aliens coming into the system. Stating that his district’s population of 8,700 students includes approximately 1,800 immigrants “at varying levels,” Mostow said this number has jumped markedly over the past five years. “We went from 4% to 20%,” he said, noting that, due to federal law, he does not know for sure how many of these students are illegal aliens.

In terms of the price tag these numbers carry, Mostow has said that for the 2007-2008 school budget, the school district will have to add five new English as a Second Language teachers – jumping the numbers of ESL educators from 16 to 21 – as well as two bilingual teachers, to the roster. “Just for salaries and fringe benefits, that’s going to cost us [a total of] $1,768,000 [for all the ESL and bilingual teachers], Mostow stated. “That alone is almost a 2% increase in the budget.”

“After one year in the country, [ESL] students have to take an English language test, which brings [the school district’s overall] scores down,” Mostow said. “If you pull that population out, we’re doing very well.”

5 Responses

  1. Immigration is eating our country.

  2. Really? When did your family get here?

  3. ILLEGAL immigration is eating our country. How’s THAT, then?

    Mostow is a hero for ejecting that loudmouth xxxxx Newsday reporter Jennifer Sinco Kelleher (wow, say THAT five times fast) from the Patchogue Medford parents meeting. Her actions were way out of line, and everyone knew it.

  4. I’m sorry if you feel upset because of a murder in your community. when I was in High School there were two murders in the same year in my community. One was done by a High school student. The other remains unsolved. It is an awful feeling. I remember WBAB saying that my community should be flooded and a bridge built over it. That was out of line, but I have not seen that kind of reporting in Newsday. Actually, I was quite happy with Newsday’s rare willingness to take on a Democratic elected official until their bosses at Cablevision decided to do spin for Levy.

    Seems more like to me that white people are eating our country. Don’t remember seeing any undocumented people charged with killing anyone in my community or in Patchogue or running the auto, banking or insurance industries into the ground, starting the Iraq or or Afghanistan wars or or destroying our reputation internationally by torturing people or refusing to deal with global warming. The closest you come is that former AG Roberto Gozalez can’t account for how one of his grandfathers entered this county.

  5. Regardless of your politics, it was a completely mindless move to have a reporter removed from a public meeting.

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