100 people showed up at a school board meeting in the Central California city of Clovis demanding to know what happened to their Hmong language class.
The Central Valley is home to one of the largest Hmong communities in the country, but when Clovis students began school this fall, they discovered the district was not offering the class.
“It is really disappointing to see a school district that benefits from Hmong students and families so easily cancel our Hmong classes and spaces for students to not only learn about the language but to engage in learning about Hmong culture and history,” said Katie Moua, of Hmong Innovating Politics, a Sacramento-based nonprofit, reported the Fresno Bee. “The move to cancel these Hmong language classes is inequitable and further perpetuates the historical trauma we face as a refugee community.”
Parents and students also chimed in about their concerns.
“This action to eliminate Hmong classes is a step forward into erasing Hmong language from our students’ Body, Mind, and Spirits,” said one parent, according to the Clovis Roundup.
“..I forgot how to communicate in my own native language for a time,” said a student. “The pinnacle of that devastation came when I couldn’t hold a decent conversation with my maternal grandmother at the end of my high school senior year.”
The district assured everyone it plans to reinstate the classes but had no choice but to eliminate them after the sudden departure of a 25-year veteran and its only Hmong language teacher, Vicky Xiong-Lor, who is moving on to teach at Fresno State University.
Xiong-Lor has split her time between two high schools in the district, Clovis and Buchanan.
The district vowed to reinstate the classes as soon as it can find a replacement.
She also appeared at the school board meeting and urged the board to hire two teachers to replace her, reported the Clovis Roundup.
“It has been very challenging running two schools on very different bell schedules and that took me six years to grow a very successful program. We can’t do this to the next teacher.”
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