NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | North Minneapolis Hmong Students Invade Capitol

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On April 5, 25 North Minneapolis Hmong students stormed into 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,

Hmong students urge representative Bobby Joe Champion (DFL, Minneapolis) to support school bus transportation to Hopkins, Wayzata

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. 

Hmong boys thank senator Gen Olson (Republican, Wayzata) for senate’s support of school  bus transportation funding. Senator Olson chairs senate education committee

 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.

 On April 5 Hmong 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. They 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.

Hmong girls thank senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL, Minneapolis) for her support of school bus transportation funding

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 cites:       

* Supportive, competent teachers go out of their way to help students during and after school

* Students are pushed hard in mainstream classes, and specialized staff give additional help on the hardest courses such as history and science

* Their academic English continues to steadily improve.

* Students are thriving in science classes and  ELL classes        

* Students value the abundance of academic activities, both during school  and after school,  that are helping  their academic success.

* Achievement data shows they are making steady academic progress

Hmong students answer questions from senator Jeff Hayden (DFL, Minneapolis) about Hopkins, Wayzata schools

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.

On April 5 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.

Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL, Minnetonka) has worked closely with Hmong students to preserve school bus transportation funding

Hmong students prepare to flyer the offices of Minnesota legislators

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