Education News

New School Year Brings New Arabic Language Campus to Houston

But some believe the school is fueling propaganda. A handful of protesters waived American flags and signs reading “Qatar Out” outside of campus on the first day of school.

Principal Kate Adams welcomes guests the same way her students spend their day – in two languages.

“Good morning good morning! Or as we say in Arabic, Sabah el kheer, and you would respond, Sabah an noor, which means morning of goodness, morning of light,” Adams told a group of reporters on the first day of school.

The Arabic Immersion Magnet School is latest dual language campus in the Houston Independent School District.

It’s the nation’s first public Arabic immersion school, starting with pre-K and kindergarten students.

In its inaugural year, it has enrolled 132 students in pre-K and kindergarten. They spend half their day learning in English and half in Arabic.

Adams said that students come from dozens of Houston ZIP codes and reflect the diversity of Houston. She said a common misconception is that the school is for families who already speak Arabic.

The goal is for students to become bilingual and also global citizens.

But some believe the school is fueling propaganda.

Elizabeth Theiss led a group of protesters who waived American flags and signs reading “Qatar Out” in front of campus.

“You’re taking little babies here, you’re taking little pre-K. And you’re not allowing them to participate in the American family by assimilating them,” Theiss said, adding that it would be better to let older children decide to study Arabic.

Superintendent Terry Grier said that protesters have a right to express themselves but that these children’s parents chose this school.

“They were not forced to come. This was something that they wanted to do because they have a vision for their children and their children’s future,” Grier said.

Grier’s vision is for more Houston students to become bilingual.

HISD has almost doubled its dual language programs to more than fifty, including a Mandarin Chinese immersion school.

 

 

 

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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