To the Editor:
At the Board of Supervisors meeting this week Chairwoman Dorothy Jaeckle, superintendent for the Bermuda District, defended her recent statements about non-English-speakers and homeless citizens which have caused controversy across the county and the region. In a statement she read from the dais, she said:
“This is not an anti-immigrant discussion. This is not illegal vs. legal. I believe even if it was not the law, we would be foolish to not provide an education to any child that resides in our community. This is about a communication issue between a teacher and a student. I would hope that we can all agree that learning the English language and assimilating into the culture is the best outcome for our students, as it has been throughout the history of immigration.”
This statement seems to contradict Ms. Jaeckle’s position against using existing funds to hire additional teachers for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). If making sure that students assimilate and learn the English language, doesn’t it make sense to provide the ESOL teachers necessary to accomplish that goal?
Ms. Jaeckle mentioned at the Wednesday meeting and at an earlier district meeting that she was frustrated recently when visiting Bermuda District constituents in need. She stated that the constituents did not speak English, so she could not communicate with them. I assume that Ms. Jaeckle is familiar with her district and that she knows that a large number of non-English-speaking constituents reside in that area.
Jaeckle saw no connection between her frustration that she could not communicate with her non-English-speaking constituents and her own failure to arrange in advance to take a Spanish speaker with her to interpret. She placed the responsibility and failure for communicating directly upon the constituent in need.
Ms. Jaeckle continues to insist that her remarks earlier this month were taken out of context in the March 17 Richmond Times-Dispatch article. However, each time she defends her position she demonstrates that she does not understand the needs of her non-English-speaking constituents. She does not seem to grasp that by not taking responsibility for learning more about her own constituency, she continues to offend and alienate us.
I hope that someone who is personally close to Chairwoman Jaeckle will understand this situation from all points of view and explain it to Ms. Jaeckle. I am sure that Ms. Jaeckle desires to effectively represent ALL of her constituents. I hope that she will take the initiative and learn more about the people she represents.
Bermuda District resident