Over the last decade, the number of students in the Buffalo Public Schools learning English as a new language has more than doubled, and now account for nearly 1 in every 5 kids enrolled in the city school system.
But immigrant and refugee leaders are concerned there are too few bilingual teachers to address the poor academic results seen among so many of these students.
And while they have seen the district bolster its bilingual education for Spanish-speaking students, there still are many more languages to consider – 83 in all spoken throughout the district.
“Our main concern has been, ‘What about these other communities?’” said Jerry Manuel, co-chair of the Buffalo Immigrant Leadership Team. “What about the Burmese speakers? Or the Nepali speakers? Or the Bhutanese speakers or the speakers from South Rwanda or South Sudan?”