VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Ahead of Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ annual budget process, a board member’s Facebook post raises concerns about an attempt to withdraw funding for the program teaching students whose native language is n is not English.
This week, school board member Victoria Manning posted a four-sentence statement on her personal page that addressed the growing number of students participating in the system’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program and the growing funds VBCPS has there. devotes.
The message ended with Manning stating, “Continuing to educate South Americans is not sustainable.”
On Friday, a growing number of political groups, the Virginia Beach Commission on Human Rights as well as the school division superintendent and several of Manning’s colleagues, released statements about his remarks. One of them demanded an apology.
Manning is known for his social media posts that get others pumped. In 2019, an article she published about this detailed dissatisfaction with a serving Virginia House delegate was investigated by Capitol police when she wrote that she planned to buy “a arsenal”. More recently, she pushed for the removal of books from school libraries for possibly violating the school’s equity policy.
Her recent post came after a briefing on the district’s ESL program at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Dr. Nicole DeVries, director of K-12 and Gifted programs, explained how the district currently has 43 locally funded ESL teachers, an increase of 12 from 2021. She said the number of students participants increased from 1,768 in 2020-21. to 2,084 for the current school year.
Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence is seeking more than $800,000 for eight additional full-time positions for the 2022-2023 school year and for revisions to current 10-month contracts.
DeVries explained that the four main languages students speak when they start the program are Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese. She said, without a doubt, the majority of students are Spanish speakers.
After the presentation, Manning asked “are these mostly from South America?”
“Various countries, but I can tell you we have a large population coming from our Central American countries,” DeVries said.
To that, Manning said “thank you” but made no further comment until posting to Facebook.
The message quickly circulated on social media, with many calling its rhetoric “hateful”.
“I don’t understand the motivation for this individual’s hurtful comments,” Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission member Luis Rivera said Friday. “When you say and specifically mention Latin Americans, you’re indirectly telling me that you have something against brown or black or Indian or Native American people and so on who come from south of the border in the United States – and from other people are fine but Latin Americans are not. Something is wrong here.”
Luis went on to say that ESL classes help students better assimilate, deal with their peers, and become taxpaying citizens.
“ESL [has] taught for decades with great success,” Rivera said.
In a joint statement, Virginia Beach School Board President Carolyn Rye and Vice President Kim Melnyk said, “Personally, we do not condone or support comments from our colleagues about our school board program. English as a second language,” and that “our community needs to be assured that we will continue to teach and adopt every child that comes through our doors.
The Virginia Beach Democratic committee demanded that “Ms. Manning retract her statement and apologize. Dog whistle statements have no place in our inclusive and diverse city.
At this point, Manning did not do that.
Manning told 10 On Your Side via text Friday, “I support our ESL program and we have great ESL teachers.”
She appeared to try to justify her post by framing it around the ongoing staffing shortages in the district.
“We are 100 teachers short and now we need to add 8 more ESL positions. We don’t have the staff to follow,” Manning said. “If you have a program with an increasing number of students with fewer teachers, then the program is not viable.”
Manning never specified why she chose “South Americans”.
In a statement, Spence, the division superintendent, argued that the program is the definition of sustainability.
“I believe that our main job is to educate children – all children. At VBCPS, we are built on the fundamental belief that every child who comes to us deserves to feel like they belong and feel loved. Teach and caring for our students, whoever they are, is the most enduring part of who we are. Whatever happens, we will continue to keep this as our core mission and we will celebrate the diversity that makes our community so vibrant and wonderful.
– Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence
“It is a basic human right, under the 14th Amendment, and a moral imperative to ensure that every student in our city, regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity, receives a free and appropriate education.
“Learning English in our public schools is not a new concept. Fortunately, our local history is filled with stories of immigrants from many countries learning English in our schools. We are fortunate to be an inclusive community that welcomes families from all over the world to our beautiful city. These families make a great contribution to our city and want their children to have every opportunity to reach their potential. Canceling a segment of our community is canceling our entire beloved community.
-Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission