Angela Tonn on Immigrant Students
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My name is Angela Tonn, and I am a public high school teacher. I teach biology and AP biology.
The vast majority of our students are, Latinex, from all over Latin America and South America. But we also have a good chunk of Southeast Asians and Asians and, uh, little handful of, uh, American kids, little tiny, little tiny pockets. Um, although we always joke with somebody like, Oh, look, there's a white kid. And I'm like, yeah, he's Bosnian and he's white, but he's like, he's not from here. So he's also an ESOL student, you know, he's an ESOL class. It's wonderful. But again, the pressure we're putting on these kids to not just learn the language, but to learn the academic language and the subject, and then be able to express themselves at a level that we would expect, say, but when you start learning a little bit later, think about your vocabulary.
You know, um, one of my favorite stories is after one of the damn standardized tests, the kid who looked at me and said, miss what kind of an animal is a dandy lion, guessing he got that question wrong. He saw part of a word. He knew, well, he lives in an urban setting, uh, on Buford highway. So, you know, they're not playing with dandy lions, like maybe you and I did growing up, um, or they use a different word for them. So you're dealing with, again, I'm afraid we're crushing these kids under our heel before we help them to fly. And then because standardized tests measure standardized minds, we're, you know, we've decided that all birds should fly. So we're trying to figure out how to launch penguins into the air. I think we're very, very lucky to have these immigrants in our country who want to be here, who want to contribute, who want to be a part of fabric of our society, um, who are bringing with them an incredible work ethic. Like now, sometimes my kids are so good on homework, but they're teenagers, but they're not afraid of hard work. They don't bring that xenophobia. Cause you know, I, I think, uh, business owners are gonna be very, very glad, especially if they stopped looking at test scores and look at this young man, this young woman standing in front of you and say, wow, look what this kid's been through. And here they are.