Supervisor Jaeckle’s comments on immigrants and the poor
To the Editor:
To me, this is a case of an elected official using a cost-benefit analysis to mask prejudices against immigrants and poor families.
Regarding immigrant students, she argues that spending more on ESOL programs hurts English speaking students. Where is the data for this claim? SOL scores in Chesterfield have long performed above national averages. Jaeckle said her goal is to reduce the pupil-to-teacher ratio (PTR), but it seems that she only wants to reduce class sizes for English speaking students. Chesterfield school board chairman Javaid Siddiqi states, there are 2.5 ESOL teachers per 200 ESOL students. Adding ESOL teachers reduces the PTR. Reducing the ESOL PTR will reduce the strain on teachers because ESOL students can become acclimated to English-speaking classrooms with greater ease.
Jaeckle also uses flawed logic in wanting to remove children from families who do not have a permanent residence. She feels the county spends too much on transportation to bus transient students from one side of the county to the other when their parents move. Apparently, Jaeckle believes forcing a child into foster care will save money. Foster care costs the county money the same as transportation, if not more. Her statements do not address trauma and long-term damage done to a child taken from his or her family. Her comments show a lack of education and understanding about the foster care system and a disregard for children and families.
Jaeckle was elected to represent ALL residents. Students are sent to school to learn and the children she refers to must be seen as individuals capable of changing the world. Residents should refuse to re-elect Jaeckle to any position, let alone one of the highest positions in Chesterfield County. A top-ranking county leader should demonstrate a higher level of understanding and tolerance toward her county’s residents. In these divisive times, we must come together to elect officials who bring us together. These officials must have a commitment to the education of ALL residents, as a well-educated citizenry makes the county a better place to live.
My letter to the editor is in response to comments made by Chesterfield County’s Bermuda District Supervisor, Dorothy Jaeckle. During a March 16, 2017, budget committee meeting; Ms. Jaeckle made disparaging comments about immigrant students and transient students.
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch and several other news sources, Ms. Jaeckle said this about English as second language students.
“This is where we are. This is what is creating the division. It’s not that people don’t like immigrants. But it’s when people send their children to school, and they find themselves in a classroom where nobody speaks English, they say, ‘Well, I’m not going.’ You talk about what attracts people to Chesterfield schools. It’s not that they’re prejudiced against them, but they want their child to be in a classroom that’s more English-speaking.” Jaeckle went on further to say, “That day when the immigrants held their children home, teachers said it was so nice to have a whole class that understood English,” Jaeckle added, referencing the recent nationwide “A Day Without Immigrants”.
Later in the meeting, she attacked transient students for costing the school system money by saying: “It’s just one of my pet peeves,” she said during a discussion of the small increases in the homeless student population. “If a child is homeless, if you can’t provide a home, then maybe you need to think about your children needing to be in temporary foster care while you try to find a home.”
This week, Ms. Jaeckle followed up with a letter to the editor printed in the Village News, a community newspaper located in Chester, VA, to clarify her statements. Her statements did little to help her cause and only dug her hole deeper by doubling down. Other board members did not come to her defense and refused to comment. Chesterfield School Board Chairman Javaid Siddiqi, whose father emigrated from Pakistan, responded “The number of ESOL students has grown dramatically,” Siddiqi said, adding that there are some schools with ratios of 2½ ESOL teaching positions to more than 200 students. “The reality is that we are going to have to put additional funding in ESOL.”
Ms. Jaeckle is a Republican and was elected to the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors in 2007. She has a long track record of advocating for the conservative agenda in the school system.
I chose this topic because I am one of Dorothy Jaeckle’s constituents and I am opposed to her conservative agenda. My child will attend public schools in Chesterfield County and it is my wish to have her attend school where diversity is valued and seen as a strength. Further, other countries make it a priority to teach a variety of languages in their schools. Why is it not a priority to do so in one of the most diverse nations in the world? Drawing attention to Jaeckle’s comments provides for an opportunity to educate the public and encourage a community conversation about these issues. Writing a letter to the editor also may persuade others to take action and influence policymakers. Social workers as practitioners have a duty to be a force for positive change in their community and a letter to the editor is one mechanism in which they can exercise this duty.