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Students kicked off school bus in St. Paul

Jan 10, 2007 11:44AM PST

magine sending your kids off to school, but when they get to the bus they are told they can't get on because they speak English.

That's right, English.

It happened to a few children in St. Paul and now the school district is apologizing.

Rachel Armstrong sent her kids to pick up the bus as usual Monday, but after the driver let the kids on, he told them he would not pick them up again. He even said he wouldn't take them home that afternoon.

Armstrong left work early Tuesday, forced to pick up her kids from Phalen Lake Elementary School.

Her twin girls, 10, and her son, 8, were kicked off their regular school bus. They were told by the bus driver the route is for non-English speaking students only.

"I was furious. I was at work and I was just mad." Armstrong said. "I felt like we were being discriminated because we speak English. Just because they speak English, they can't ride the school bus. I mean, this is America, right?"

Discussion is locked

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(NT) Whoa Nellie
Jan 10, 2007 1:01PM PST
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Re: this is America, right?"
Jan 10, 2007 1:16PM PST
The district also discovered the Armstrongs no longer live in the Phalen Lake School boundary because they moved last year.

It's America and they don't even live in the school district, WHY are they on the bus anyway?
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Next question.....
Jan 10, 2007 3:39PM PST

Why is a school district's buses traveling outside of the district boundries to service non-English speaking kids, but not English speaking ?

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Jan 10, 2007 10:54PM PST


but id imagine other children who do live there still speak english.

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maybe ms armstrong (parent) can NOT READ english
Jan 10, 2007 8:33PM PST

now for the author's attention grabbing first sentence: the students were NOT kicked off the bus, they WERE brought to school. it WAS the parent's RESPONSIBILITY to be familiar with rules regarding her children's transportation. living IN the district would be a good place to start. sometimes it is best to leave the worms in the can.

attention grabber? sure. misleading?: likely. the purpose is to stir up racial tensions? bigotry?: probably.

Saint Paul Public Schools provides busing for students who live over one mile from the school. Minnesota law states that transportation by school bus is a privilege, not a right. Please note the following bus safety guidelines:

1. The Saint Paul Public School District will not tolerate disruptions, abusive language, aggressive or dangerous behavior, vandalism, and chemical usage including smoking on school buses.

2. Children may only ride their assigned bus. They may not ride any other bus home. Parents: do not send a note to the school or teacher requesting that your child ride home with a friend or relative. Transportation DOES NOT allow students to ride any other bus than the one assigned.

3. Students must ride their assigned bus home unless prior written notice has been given to their teacher stating that parent has arranged for their child to be picked up.

4. School employees and other citizens are encouraged to report intolerable bus rider behavior to the bus driver or school directly. The bus driver is obliged to report misbehaving students in writing to the principal or their designee.

5. Elementary schools are responsible for enforcing and recording bus rider discipline."

"The Saint Paul Public Schools provides transportation service to students who are attending Saint Paul Public Schools and programs, or who are attending non-public and charter schools that are located within the City of Saint Paul. Transportation is provided to students who meet eligibility requirements contained in the Board of Education Policy 707.00 Eligibility for Student Transportation.

During the 2005-2006 school year the District projects transporting 41,190 students including __________ students attending Saint Paul Public Schools and programs and 3.373 students attending non-public schools located within the City of Saint Paul."

"Integrating the Hmong Language and culture into its curriculum in April. The move is designed to respond to educational concerns of the district's growing Hmong population and retain students who might otherwise enroll in a nearby charter school with a Hmong-centered program.

One out of three children in the St. Paul public schools is Asian, many of them Hmong. As the Hmong population has grown in size and influence, more Hmong parents have called for opportunities for their children to retain their language, culture and customs. Some of these parents, disenchanted with public school offerings, have enrolled their children in the nearby Hope Academy Charter School, a Hmong-centered program.

At Phalen Lake, 45 percent of the students are Asian. A survey of all Phalen Lake parents found that 85 percent support the new language and culture curriculum.

Plans call for Phalen Lake's 640 students to study either Hmong or Spanish language and culture for 50 minutes of regular class time two days a week. Vocabulary and concepts that students are learning in their other classes will be reinforced and taught in their language classes. The program is being phased in starting this spring, and eventually all students will be able to take the curriculum. [From-Star Tribune] (Jan. 4)

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(NT) More than one side to every media story
Jan 10, 2007 9:13PM PST
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It does state however
Jan 10, 2007 10:00PM PST
The district decided to enforce the separate routes beginning Monday, but it did not tell the Armstrong family

It sounds like they moved and sent their children to catch the bus and caught the wrong bus to the wrong school. The school should have sent the children home at the end of the day or someone at the school should have taken them to the correct school so they could have gotten home on the correct bus.

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true but the rest you state "is not entirely accurate"
Jan 10, 2007 11:24PM PST

they did move, they were allowed on the bus with a warning to the correct school.

"But Armstrong's account is not entirely accurate", says St. Paul Public Schools spokeswoman Dayna Kennedy.

"As it turns out, when the Armstrong family moved last year, they landed outside of Phalen Lake's attendance area. Armstrong said she was told her kids would have to transfer if they wanted to keep riding a bus, "or I'd have to find my own way to get them to school." from the link

I agree that the school should have provided transportation back to their home that day only. I think they were correct in contacting the parent to make sure there was a responsible adult to be aware of the situation. it would not be the first time that a parent is 'missing' and care for children is involuntarily given to another.

I first heard this on foxnews this morning, they are still pushing the erroneous statement that they "were kicked off for not speaking english". tabloid tv knows the audience.

I will now say that ms armstrong apparently DOES READ english, I made that statement before learning the school administration was at fault. since the original story was based on a false premise, I investigated further and that statement "it did not tell the Armstrong family" has now been verified.

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Yep, and apparent she is not related
Jan 11, 2007 1:50AM PST

to Jack Armstrong, The All American Boy.

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You ex-Marine, ex-'Nam guys
Jan 11, 2007 4:09AM PST

could look up the Hmong story, if you don't already know it. They used to have a high suicide rate stateside; don't know if it's better now or not.

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Could care less
Jan 11, 2007 5:30AM PST

If they want to be American, learn English. If they don't like it here, suicide is painless.


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Re; If they don't like it here, suicide is painless.
Jan 11, 2007 5:39AM PST
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Jan 12, 2007 12:41AM PST

Ethnic group within SE Asia, esp. the hills of Vietnam. Recruited by CIA and others as "scouts" etc. which they did very well and willingly. Earned them the enmity of Uncle Ho, of course, with expected consequences. As a reward, they were given easy access to immigration and citizenship. (Like Filipinos who served with USN, like Marshallese Islanders who served with WalMart and Tyson ...)

The earlier suicides were laid to culture shock and homesickness.
One can imagine their reception and emotional state in a country whose Vietnam vets can't be bothered to learn these things ...

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remember the message to "these" foreigners
Jan 12, 2007 1:19AM PST

?The New Colossus? by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
?"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!"? cries she
With silent lips. ?Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!?

Between 1820 and 1920, approximately 34 million persons immigrated to the United States, three-fourths of them staying permanently. For many of these newcomers, their first glimpse of America was the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

The statue, sculpted by Fr

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Or, as the Yazzies and Begays of New Mexico
Jan 12, 2007 3:41AM PST

put it, "What do you mean, 'we natives', white man?"

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they do not celebrate coronado's birthday?
Jan 12, 2007 7:45AM PST
encomienda probably is like a stone in their moccasins.

most forget that he and desoto pacified (love that word) most of the present day usa.
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Added to my list of synonyms for
Jan 16, 2007 7:03AM PST

"screwing over". Measles did in the Hawaiians. I once read a Book that said bad government is older than we often think, and said it was guaranteed under any human system. Not a popular idea, though ... especially with government officials. Happy

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Add New Mexico:
Jan 16, 2007 7:05AM PST

The main guy here was a man named de Onate.

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and they are erecting a statue to him in el paso, yikes!!!
Jan 16, 2007 8:07AM PST

what a bloodline he comes from. since he was born in new spain, technically he never left home. how can they call him a conquistador? 'el evictor/nasty landlord' seems more accurate.

and since he created many one-legged pueblos, I do not think they will be at dedication ceremony. 'est mui mal' should be on this statue

"In 1998 New Mexico celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of his arrival, but that same year individuals opposed to the statue cut off the statue's right foot and left a note saying, "Fair is fair."

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I remember the statue incident.
Jan 17, 2007 4:04AM PST

Now I read that the amputations may not have happened, at least in the way they're usually reported. Myself, I think the original story is true. It matches the ways of life in those days; the amputations were retaliation for a rebellion. Armies haven't changed much.

I got around to several pueblos on business over my years here and found the natives [can I use that word? Happy ] to be very nice. Also patriotic, which is strange. It's also worth noting that Isleta Pueblo, just north of here, takes better care of the Rio Grande than we highly-evolved whites do.

I've also heard that Onate died in disgrace with his king, in part because of the Acoma incident.

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well I seem to remember something called "the inquisition"
Jan 17, 2007 7:46AM PST

so unlike vegas; what happens in spain, might not stay in spain. visual examples of the 'disobedient' is still a very effective way of maintaining 'order'.

I was at Taos Pueblo in '68. the description at the link is what I experienced. the poverty I saw was overwhelming to this anglo. disturbing in 20th century usa.

I did enjoy stepping into another world though and it encouraged my support and empathy for the 'originals'.

has it managed to escape the 'new age' that santa fe is now famous for?

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Two problems:
Jan 17, 2007 7:53AM PST

Governmental badness, intentional or other.
Physical isolation.

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Add aboriginal problems:
Jan 18, 2007 1:48AM PST

The worst poverty I've seen is on the Alamo Band of the Navajo Nation, near Magdalena NM. They are ethnic Apaches who were given living space by the Navajo after the Indian wars ended.

Some native enclaves do quite well, even before they went to Indian gaming. They tend to be the pueblos, which are places where they lived pre-Spanish. (A reservation, technically, is where Indians live because the Army put them there.)

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Read the article, Mark
Jan 16, 2007 6:31PM PST

It wasn't because they speak English, it was because the routes were changed.

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and re read this part
Jan 16, 2007 11:49PM PST

"ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A school bus driver let Rachel Armstrong's three children board the bus Monday morning, but he warned them that he wouldn't give them a ride home that afternoon, nor could they ever ride his route again.

The problem: Armstrong's 10-year-old twin girls and 8-year-old son speak English. According to their mother, the driver told them the route had been designated for non-English speakers only.

Armstrong said Wednesday that she got a call from a worried daughter who didn't know how she was going to get home. "She thought they had done something wrong," she said" <<articles wording not mine

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There is some personal responsibility issue here.
Jan 17, 2007 1:20AM PST

The children may not have understood by thinking they had done something wrong, true. But all was explained to the mother, the adult.

The board offered that mother options. IMO, if she really cared about the feelings of her children, she would have explained the issue to them.

This event had absolutely nothing to do with who did or did not speak English. It all had to do with the family moving out of the district, and taking the first school bus that came through. The onus rested on the English-speaking mother, not the driver or the board. She fell down regartding her responsibility for her children.

Besides, we believe that immigrants should learn English. So isn't that what the board was doing for having a special school location where they could learn English?

There are school-bus-like vehicles here that transport inmates from the jail to outside work.

What if some children wanted to ride one of those? And then became upset because they could not?

It's the mother's job to explain the mistake she made to her children. By doing so she accepts resonsibility and quits blaming others for her own error.

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Jan 17, 2007 2:28AM PST

a school bus loaded with children and a bus loaded with inmates thats marked in "english" prisinors or state correctional facility are 2 different isgues as i dont think the inmates bus would have flashing red lights, as school busses do

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no matter how many times you repeat it
Jan 17, 2007 9:08PM PST

it doesn't make it true. It was already shown not to be the case and I'm not going to waste my time repeating the facts to you, Mark.

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Jan 17, 2007 11:52PM PST

i didnt write the article, take your problems to

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the " speak english" issue was proven false 6 days ago
Jan 17, 2007 7:28AM PST

the headline from the tv station is false. it would only be minimally true if it was in quotes and was attributed to ms armstrong. that thin thread would not break only if it was stated they were paraphrasing what was said.

bulletin!!! just in from st paul mn:

3 preteen students, who were unaccompanied by a responsible adult and resided in a different school district were allowed to ride on the bus that was not intended for their transportation. they arrived safely at their school.

bus driver explained to these 10 and 8 year old children that this bus was no longer for their transportation to school. the school administration was unaware, unless notified by bus driver, of the situation. any notification, by the bus driver, to school officials is unknown at this time.

school officials admitted that they were at fault because they did not notify ms. armstrong of the change in transportation policy. ms. armstrong had been advised months earlier that when she moved to her new district that she would have to provide transportation. why ms armstrong did not make those arrangements is unknown. ms armstrong has been reminded of the earlier conversation with school officials and her solution to her problem is unknown.

boring, needs a little spice, I know: students kicked off school bus in st paul because they speak english.