Schools across NY see surge in Asian students

Across the New York region, enrolment of Asian students has gone up by 28 percent since the 2000-1 school year.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 14:30 IST

Indians and other Asian students who are the fastest-growing minority in the towns across the New York region have helped change the general profile of suburban school systems that were once predominantly white. Across the New York region, enrolment of Asian students has gone up by 28 percent since the 2000-1 school year. In some schools, Asians are in a majority, like in the Herricks Union Free School District, Long Island, where more than half of the 4,200 students are Indian, Korean and Chinese. School officials said that as the schools have gained a reputation for rigorous academics, more Asian families have moved in. They have even received inquiries from parents in Indian and China who are relocating to New York. In New Jersey, 46 percent of the 13,682 students in the Edison Township School District were Asians last year, up from 36 percent five years ago, according to the New York Times. New York City continues to be a magnet for many Asian immigrants, where the population has increased by more than 100,000, or roughly 13 percent, according to city's planning department. But in recent years, many educated, successful Asians have carved out their own route, bypassing the city to move directly to the suburbs. However, the large numbers of Asians students have stretched resources and posed other challenges for schools that are rushing to expand classes for students speaking little English, hire more bilingual teachers and bring together often disparate cultural experiences under one school roof. For example, school officials in Woodbridge, New Jersey, have been trying to hire a qualified Punjabi teacher for four years. They still do not have one, though other classes are offered in Urdu and Gujarati for the district's Indian students, who speak more than a half a dozen Indian dialects. School officials, teachers and parents are however not complaining, they say that the expanding Asian student community has strengthened their schools, not only by raising test scores but also by promoting diversity and tolerance. For instance, at Edison High School, New Jersey, Indian students have formed the Peacock Society, an after-school club that organises cultural festivals. Similarly, on Long Island, one of the most popular events at Great Neck South High School is Asian Night, where Chinese students and others put on a two-hour extravaganza of Asian art, theatre and dance. "It's noisy, it's fun and everybody loves it," said Ronald L. Friedman, the school superintendent. Almost every school has felt some impact from Asian immigration. "The impact can be seen in everyday classroom discussions that have grown deeper, richer and more personal as students from other countries share their experiences. Whether it's a piece of artwork or a piece of literature, you all gain something from seeing it from different perspectives," said one school superintendent Jack Bierwirth.

First Published: Dec 11, 2006 14:30 IST