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NPS sees ‘fairly large influx’ of immigrant students

Norwalk Public Schools has seen a 4% increase in English Language Learners, the Connecticut School Finance Project reports. That calculation does not include the influx reported Tuesday by Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski.

NORWALK, Conn. – A large influx of immigrant children is bumping up the already burgeoning English Language Learner population at Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski said Tuesday, calling it “a fairly unique situation.”

Every day, for the last four or five weeks, students have been registering “and these are primarily immigrant students who are arriving from primarily from Nicaragua and Guatemala, staying with families or friends in the Norwalk,” Adamowski said.

The state calculates that is costs about one-third more to educate English Language Learners, according to Adamowski.

As of Friday, NPS had 11,745 students, about 100 more than it did at the end of the last school year, Adamowski said. But the figure doesn’t include the 127 students who have enrolled but have not yet had physicals and immunizations, and it may be as many as 350 new students. There were 1,991 ELL learners at the end of school last year and if you add 150, it’s 2,141 now.

“There’s going to be implications of this for our ELL services,” he said. “Right now, we have been putting on additional sections at the high school for the students. And so far, we’ve been able to do that with Title III funds, we are going to have to make some other adjustments in budgeting and in services. … We’re projecting we’re going to be at about 19%, pushing 20%, of English Language Learners this year.”

English Language Learners were up to 16 percent of Norwalk’s school population, with 1,863 children, Adamowski said in January, calling ELL students the “fastest growing segment of our school population.” In December 2014, officials announced that there had been a jump from 1,300 ELL students in 2013-14 to 1,580 at that point.

The Board has been planning a deep dive into the ELL issue for a November workshop meeting. There are schools with 25% ELL; “that our view is, is too high ratio for any school, and it is going to require us retooling, not only our services, but some of the conditions for learning,” Adamowski said, mentioning the year-round schooling experiment being planned for Kendall Elementary School.

Kendall was 35.6% ELL in January.

Connecticut’s immigrant migration is primarily hitting Fairfield County, which gets 80% of the influx, according to Adamowski.

“With all the rhetoric of the Trump administration regarding, you know, keeping people at the border, it appears that many of these families have been sent out of the detention centers, or released from them,” Adamowski said. “They’re following their paths to families or friends in other states.”

Mayor Harry Rilling has added staff to the Health Department to accelerate the physicals and immunization process, Adamowski said.

Rilling attended the BoE meeting.

“Last week, I reached out to Congressman (Jim) Himes and spoke with him and said that it’s time for some federal assistance to deal with some of these issues,” Rilling said. “Because these young people are now in our city, we have to deal with this issue, we have to deal with it appropriately. We have to provide them adequate education, but the cost is going to go through the ceiling.”

Himes, according to Rilling, said he’d look into increasing Norwalk’s Title I funding and reported that this is happening in Stamford and “seems to be a national trend.”

Stamford Mayor David Martin wasn’t definitive but said there are about 300 new immigrant school children there, and Danbury has also seen an influx, according to Rilling.

Rilling said he is writing a letter to Himes, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), asking for assistance. “I think there’s got to some federal funding to help deal with this is not just a state issue anymore.”

Board member Barbara Meyer-Mitchell mentioned last year’s influx in January and speculated that there could be another wave coming.

“Last year, we had the biggest growth was between April and June,” Adamowski said, pegging that as 57 new ELL students.

Board member Julie Corbett said the Board need to think about services beyond language classes due to the trauma the new students may have experienced.

“Some students may have had zero formal schooling, so what that transition process can look like, especially in our elementary schools, where we don’t have counselors right now,” she said.

Meyer-Mitchell asked about student-based budgeting and per-pupil expenditures, wondering if there would be a special appropriation to cover costs if federal funding doesn’t come through.

“It has to cannibalize other services,” Board member Bryan Meek said.

Even a first-year teacher with benefits is $75,000 and 10 teachers equals $750,000, Board Chairman Mike Barbis said.

“We’ve already put on five additional sections at Norwalk High School,” Adamowski said. That’s $100,000 out of the reserve teacher budget but, “we will try to, you know, stay within our current budget.”

Rilling said, “I certainly feel that the city of Norwalk and the Board of Education should be meeting on a regular basis to discuss this issue, making sure we have our arms around it, making sure that we’re dealing with in the proper fashion.”

73 comments

Alice September 19, 2019 at 7:23 am

And we, as taxpayer, have to wonder where our money is going? The immigration system throughout the whole country is costing taxpayers way too much! Most intelligent people don’t move to a country where they don’t already speak the native language. That should be a requirement before the immigrant can enter this country.

Not Surprised September 19, 2019 at 7:35 am

This is what you get with open borders and a great social welfare system.

Mayor Rilling, don’t ask Himes, Murphy, or Blumenthal for help they are all an open border champions and are largely responsible for this mess. Maybe you should have thought about this before pushing all that sanctuary city nonsense.

Will these new families coming in qualify to live in our new, $800,000 per unit POKO building?

I’m blue collar – these new illegals compete for my job and drive down wages.

Is diversity our strength? Seems more like our burden.

Nor Res September 19, 2019 at 7:51 am

Working our Butts of to pay our property taxes for Non Citizens / Illegal Immigrants. Sanctuary S Hole.
How about giving us a Real# $$$$$ what it cost us Taxpayers per student.

John ONeill September 19, 2019 at 8:16 am

Based on Prior State policies we should also be getting funds from Hartford. It’s time to regionalize school system resources. If liberal suburban towns don’t want to share their schools, they should be more than happy to share their money…

Eric Niederer September 19, 2019 at 9:40 am

I always find the immigration debate interesting and sad, and with lots of generalized statements without any reliable complete data to support it. Intelligent people move to a country even when they do not speak the language. My father came from Germany and did not speak the language but did learn it quickly. He maintained an accent throughout his life. He worked hard in a blue-collar job and contributed significantly to the tax base. My wife’s family came from Italy and did the same. Is the present immigration issue directed to non-Europeans? If so, then it is at least xenophobic, if not racist. I work with many Hispanic immigrants and find that they largely are great and hardworking people, just like my immigrant family. There are bad apples in any demographic group include white native people and white immigrants. Have we continued the nativist myth of insecurity and superiority? Variety is the spice of life, and multi-cultural diversity should be embraced and celebrated. Let’s try to love our fellow man/woman. I actually agree with immigration reform to somewhat restrict numbers for environmental purposes, basically slow population growth- that’s just one consideration and I see the multifaceted issues as well. However, we need immigrants for so many reasons. One is to look at 3rd generation compared to 1st generation workers, and how hard the 1st generation worked compared to the later generations. There are many jobs that the 3rd generation will not take even if that means they are unemployed. I don’t have data on it but there numerous examples in our own community, just look at friends and family members you know. Immigration policy in this country has a long history of unsupported bias and racism, and has run through most ethic groups, including European ethic groups which at that time of focused bias were considered dirty, criminal and diseased just like the rhetoric said today about other ethnic groups. Hopefully, people who comment on immigration policy educate themselves as to the social bias employed in many arguments and the fear mongering on incomplete economic analysis. Love thy fellow man and woman, especially as our society depends on them more than many comprehend. Public education is important and I don’t understand the outrage at teaching immigrant children. I guess I should have been left behind and not be a member of the Connecticut Bar and regularly volunteer in the community, or am I okay to receive public education because I have white, European genes? Come on, are we still like this in the 21st Century? We as a society really need to mature, and recognize our own inherent biases. At least be honest with yourself. Now, back to work for me contributing to the tax base and working in the community. Maybe it’s good that I was allowed to be in this country through my parents, one who came here in the late 1960s without speaking English.

Diana Guzman September 19, 2019 at 9:57 am

I was once the immigrant in that situation who enrolled in the Norwalk school system, 19 years later I make a 6 figures salary, pay CT taxes, shop in CT and I am part of this community. Immigrants are more than a burden, we are hardworking people who have moved away from everything familiar to us because our life is at risk, believe me to emigrate is not an ease choice… Let’s invest in these children because they are our own, and they will be eternally grateful to the town that opened their arms to them.

Campion September 19, 2019 at 10:15 am

Are we allowed to ask if these children are in the country legally? Staying with friends in Norwalk means, what, that they live in Bridgeport? Are they pretending to be in the charge of Norwalk residents to gain access to our schools? I hope NPS is checking all this out. If not, I hope somebody adds this to they campaign platform agains the current rulers.

We need to END SLAVERY IN THE USA – Close the border to illegals, make legal (vetted, etc…) immigration easier, grant amnesty to all non-criminal illegals (as in did not break any other law other than entering illegally, and, maybe, not paying taxes) currently in the US, remove the criminals with extreme prejudice, and enforce employer labor laws against paying workers less than minimum wage!

We should welcome the expense of teaching those children legitimately in Norwalk English, and go a step further by offering night classes to their parents.

Campion September 19, 2019 at 10:32 am

And, to add to the above – please keep in mind that this is not about people originating from countries to the south – there are numerous illegals from all over the world who do not enjoy the protection of law that citizens enjoy, to the profit of companies and the wealthy.

Ursula Caterbone September 19, 2019 at 10:34 am

This is an investment in our future. We’re investing our money in children who are now destined to have the same good quality of life that we ourselves enjoy. We’re assisting them in becoming far better assimilated than our grandparents did for our Irish, Italian and German immigrants. Many of these children will be our doctors, our nurses, our IT specialists, our teachers, our care givers, our soldiers, sailors and marines, our neighbors and, if we’re lucky, our friends. This is an investment well worth making.

.

Audrey Cozzarin September 19, 2019 at 10:54 am

What family wants to leave their home for a foreign country and unknown future, unless conditions there are so awful (dangerous) in terms of both violence and poverty (and corrupt/ineffective governments) that they feel desperate and make an equally dangerous journey towards hope? Punishing the children with the attitude of “who’s going to pay for them–not my tax dollars” reeks of a real lack of compassion without understanding. Finding solutions to cover the extra costs can be done, and bringing Hartford into this mix (and federal government) to fund the load Norwalk schools is taking on can be accomplished better if the climate is about caring for these kids who are innocents. Their parents, for the most part if you put yourself in their shoes, are trying to give their children the best possible outcome. Wouldn’t you?

Okeezy September 19, 2019 at 11:06 am

@Audrey. It amazes me how the left continues to conflate legal immigration with illegals overwhelming the school system and burdening local taxpayers. The prior waves of mass immigration you refer to (into the US) were predominantly lawful. Why not invite all the third and fourth world into the country until the system reaches the breaking point? Are your doors open to assisting? These family units need to be deported and the city needs to stop the proliferation of illegal housing in South Norwalk. My hard earned tax dollars are not for the purpose of incentivizing and funding illegal immigration.

Ursula Caterbone September 19, 2019 at 11:25 am

Paul and Alice, unless you are descended from an American indian tribe your ancestors most likely came to America speaking a language other than english. The children who came with them would have struggled in school.
In most cases immigrants who have a command of our language are recruited to fill a job speciality or they come on a work visa. They most often come from a country where english is taught in their schools. Children coming here now to escape dangerous lives in drug and crime infested areas hardly have the time to first learn a new language.
Speeding up the process of assimilating today’s immigrant children benefits us when they become adults.
Who pays for this? Immigrants pay taxes just like you and I do.

Cardenas September 19, 2019 at 11:31 am

This is a problem that goes beyond just throwing money at or, on the other side of the spectrum, just completely oppose all types of immigration.

Yes money will be needed, but kids, given the right conditions will learn and adapt quickly, but Norwalk as a city has to look at the families as a whole. It requires an intelligent view and a mentality adaptation that Norwalk people are capable of a can become an example of.
I can speak from personal experience that I see the point of people worried or upset about their tax dollars going for this type of programs to help outsiders as it seems unexpected. I get it, I am a taxpayer too and at one point I can see the logic in that. But I also can see, being a child of an immigrant family, how other approaches, even simple and inexpensive ones, can help ease the inclusion and reap a lot more benefit from this cultural influx. That is the key, Inclusion.
Yes, ideally people should be able to at least have a basic knowledge of English if they are coming to this country, but that is not the reality, so let’s help them out. Let’s guide them, welcome them, but also protect our values, pointing out when we see something wrong.

Many people get defensive when they either don’t understand the language or the social interactions, but it is a survival instinct. Norwalk can be an example of inclusion and by that I don’t think it means just open up and let people come in without direction, take benefits and let them be. I mean guide, direct, include, set the conditions to allow this people to adapt. It requires every Norwalk resident to be a good neighbor, because after all, whether we like it or not, they have become our neighbors.

Ursula Caterbone September 19, 2019 at 11:40 am

Okeezy, most of the illegal immigrants here now came on a work visa and stayed illegally after the work visa expired.
If you are a Norwalk resident your hard earned tax dollars are going to be stretched much more educating the influx of children of the residents moving into our rapidly over developing town. This is a topic you might better spend your efforts complaining about.

Regarding prior years of lawful immigration, those
many of us with Irish ancestry could claim immigrant ancestors who snuck in after their hordes of boats were turned away during the potato famine. Should those us descended from them have to leave?

John Miller September 19, 2019 at 12:00 pm

John O’Neill: Don’t hold your breath waiting for help from Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, and Westport. The burden will continue to fall on the cities that can least afford to absorb the cost of the influx of ELL students. When the Mayor communicates with our Congressional contingent, maybe he can ask them when they are planning to reform Title 8 of the United States Code. After all, isn’t that their job?

Yeah sure September 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Ursula…yes illegals do pay SOME of the taxes that they should but they take out of the system far more in services and freebies I came here legally and at great expense and effort WHY are you so keen to allow SOME people to jump the line and in reality “they will become doctors an lawyers etc” yeah…nah

Isabelle Hargrove September 19, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Nancy, it is not “a fairly large influx”, it’s a huge influx.

It would have been helpful to put a price tag on this. The recording of the BOE meeting provides all the information needed to do so.

ELL students require 1/3 more in per-pupil spending. 350 students, at our current $8600/student plus 30%, adds up to a staggering $3.9 millions in additional per-pupil spending.

This assumes that none of our other costs will increase. For example, needing more transportation, revisions to curriculum, central office. I think that’s an unlikely assumption based on Dr. Adamowski’s comments about needing to fundamentally alter our educational system in light of having over 20% of our school population ELL.

There is also a significant cost for our city health services which are providing all the physicals and immunizations.

This is the sobering reality of out-of-control immigration. We are at the breaking point, while our leafy neighbors with “hate has no home here” signs bear none of the costs. While Facebook is flooded with “You are Loved” propaganda, we do not have the resources needed to absorb the constant and accelerating influx of students. During the meeting, Dr. A also mentioned that this increase is on top of the 57 new ELL students (= additional cost of $637K) we enrolled between April and June of last year. Love is grand, but it does not educate children. This is becoming a crisis and is affecting every child in the Norwalk school system as scarce resources are being reallocated to serve more.
 
I applaud Mayor Rilling’s request for more funding from our congressional delegation. Murphy, Blumenthal, and Himes, all favor very loose immigration policies and refuse to change the immigration laws that create the problem in the first place. I expect them to find the money to support their ideals. 

However, it is really unfortunate that Mayor Rilling is not pressuring our State delegation first and foremost. We get 9 cents back to every tax dollar Norwalkers send to Hartford. Senator Duff, despite his leadership position in the supermajority party, has been unable to fund Norwalk fairly.  

We need a mayor who will take a strong stand for Norwalk, not cover for his same-party teammates. Norwalk, not party, should come first. Hartford keeps getting a pass from this mayor. Until that changes, we will continue to receive mediocre support and hurt our residents and school children.

Below is the link to the BOE discussion of the new arrivals (starts at the 52:30 minutes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU9MJH7e2kg

Paul Cantor September 19, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Thank you Ursula Caterbone and Audrey Cozzarin for your comments . Perhaps if people view this video it will help inform the discussion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8bAGoXMSKM

Yes there are costs to educating children. And yes, providing bilingual education to children who do not speak the native language is an additional cost. The question therefore is do the benefits outweigh the costs. And if they do then it is in the interest of the nation, state and locality that will share that benefit to find a way to bear the cost.

Can we do that? As the Congressional Budget Office indicated in a 2007 report on The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments, “Over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use.”

John ONeill September 19, 2019 at 1:33 pm

I just watched 20 minutes of video from 52 minute mark. Two words come to mind. Holy Cow!! This should be required viewing for every Norwalk resident. THIS is a crisis which needs to be addressed now!

Paul Lanning September 19, 2019 at 1:39 pm

The crisis befalling Norwalk and other towns rightfully belongs to the U.S. as a whole. If dealt with sensibly on a national level, the immigration tumult would be a boon.

Congress must act. Federal tax revenue being spent on incarcerating and brutalizing refugee kids should instead go towards educating them.

Bryan Meek September 19, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Rolling out the welcome mat to newcomers without funding the programs needed for assimilation is plain and simply unethical and possibly inhumane.

Let’s assume previous posters claims are accurate that the net effect is positive revenue for the government. Perhaps, but if that is the case then the problem is, Norwalk is powerless to collect these, instead they go to Hartford who turns a blind eye to our needs and uses us as their piggy bank.

Our state is broke and our state government is broken resorting to things like taxing food, yet it has no plans to take responsibility for the sanctuary policies it supports.

Write it down right now, it will be up to the homeowners of Norwalk to pay for the generosity of Hartford, while they continue to short change Norwalk out of the revenues that we generate for them. And don’t expect any help from our neighboring communities where hate has no home.

John ONeill September 19, 2019 at 2:04 pm

So, we’re all in agreement…Wealthy liberal towns adjacent to Norwalk should pay for these excess costs, as it’s in their best interests, and it’s the right thing to do. Our Mayor should publicly reach out and “shame” any towns/legislators that don’t support educating these immigrants whether illegal or not. Let’s start with Westport Democrats and see how that goes. I’m afraid Norwalk property owners are tapped out. Based on minutes of Board of Ed meeting, Norwalk schools will be shutting programs down to offset costs associated with additional unanticipated incoming students. Reading between the lines, property taxes will be going up significantly in Norwalk if alternative funding doesn’t happen.

LadyDrivr September 19, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Wait, what?

“Rilling said, “I certainly feel that the city of Norwalk and the Board of Education should be meeting on a regular basis to discuss this issue, making sure we have our arms around it, making sure that we’re dealing with in the proper fashion.”

How many meetings has he made where this topic was discussed? I thought he was a member of the BOE.

#[email protected]

Paul Cantor September 19, 2019 at 3:05 pm

People are fleeing poverty and violence in Central
America. Harvest
of Empire is a riveting documentary that helps explain
the reason such violence and poverty exists south of
our border. It is available on YouTube for $3.
Hopefully people concerned with the issue of
undocumented immigrants and the cost of educating
their children will view the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I2wsu7ovx0

Paul Lanning September 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Westport, Wilton, Darien and New Canaan helping to fund Norwalk schools makes sense. The Mayor and BOE should form a committee to pursue.

Niz September 19, 2019 at 4:27 pm

I wholeheartedly an with Eric Niederer’s comment, being a white European too, I became a citizen at 9yrs old with my parents… yet the other matters noted in the comments here need to get some respect too, not the bias and hateful ones. Like what Isabella Hargrove notes too. “…immigration reform to somewhat restrict numbers for environmental purposes, basically slow population growth…”

Alice September 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Ursula – FYI my descendants did come to this country speaking English. They came here on the Mayflower! I also had descendants who fought in the American Revolution.

Elizabeth Gibbs September 19, 2019 at 4:37 pm

I am surprised to learn than some of the immigrant children entering Norwalk schools are from Nicaragua. Norwalk has a sister city in Nicaragua, and for the past 33 years, the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project has been working effectively to offer opportunity for a better life to the most disadvantaged children of Nagarote through privately funded education and afterschool programs. Not one of them has ever expressed any interest in moving to the United States. We have helped to make it possible for them to continue to live with their friends and families in Nicaragua.
What has changed is that with the recent civil uprising against President Daniel Ortega, some families have found it necessary for their own safety to leave the country. I doubt very much if any are from Nagarote. Our programs and other similar work in the city are still continuing, with, I might add, considerable support from people living in our neighboring communities of Darien, Westport and New Canaan. However, many similar programs have had to close or reduce their operations because their funding has been impacted by these events. Recent news report indicate that many aid programs funded by USAID in Central America have been cut back forcing people to seek asylum here. The relatively small amount of funding needed to keep people happy and safe in their own country is miniscule compared with the cost of building a wall or dealing with the migrants once they get here.

Andrew September 19, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Once a kid shows up a the schools doorstep the details of who and how they got there become immaterial, they have to be educated. The problem is the overwhelming funding structure in CT is that single family homeowners pay into that system. The state and federal government definitely are responsible for this imbalance. Maybe if the state allowed the town to keep a portion of sales tax then the new arrivals will be helping contribute through their everyday purchases of food, gas and clothing items. It would be start to helping spread the burden.

John ONeill September 19, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Elizabeth: You make some interesting points. Would you be abLe to quantify the support Norwalk currently receives from our neighboring towns? Thanks in advance for your info..

Elizabeth Gibbs September 19, 2019 at 5:16 pm

John: The funding the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project receives from surrounding towns is donations to the Project. We raise and spend on average $160,000/year and probably around half to two thirds of that comes from donors who live in towns other than Norwalk. Most of that money is spent in Nagarote, Nicaragua paying for scholarships and programs which improve the lives of the children there.

John ONeill September 19, 2019 at 5:50 pm

Elizabeth : That’s great to hear. I’m sure that group does many good things for the children of Nicaragua. But.how exactly does that help finance Norwalk school system?

Norwalk native September 19, 2019 at 6:54 pm

Instead of dealing with straws and plastic bags, our useless Ordinance Committee should be addressing the rampant zoning violations that continue to proliferate in our multi-family housing stock.

Anyone who says that illegals pay taxes insult all those who actually do. Which taxed do illegals pay? Sales taxes? Can I also choose which taxes I can pay? Income taxes paid to Hartford come back to Norwalk in the form of Education subsidies…or not.
The Paul Cantors of the world continue to want to use the term immigrant when the correct term is “illegals”. We are under siege by an invading horde of low skilled and high need non English speaking people who are taking advantage of our lack of will to enforce the laws enacted by our Congress.
We owe nothing to these invaders.

Norwalk native September 19, 2019 at 6:59 pm

There will come a point when property taxes go up enough that even the very Liberal Norwalk voters will conclude that it is well past time for a change at City Hall and in our State government. I am young enough to look forward to that day.

Paul Cantor September 19, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Elizabeth Hargrove writes of “the sobering reality of out-of-control immigration.”

But in the U.S. we need more immigrants not less.

Here is how the Cato Institute puts it:

“The overriding impact of immigrants is to strengthen and enrich American culture, increase the total output of the economy, and raise the standard of living of American citizens. Immigrants are advantageous to the United States for several reasons: (1) Since they are willing to take a chance in a new land, they are self-selected on the basis on motivation, risk taking, work ethic, and other attributes beneficial to a nation. (2) They tend to come to the United States during their prime working years (the average age is 28), and they contribute to the workforce and make huge net contributions to old-age entitlement programs, primarily Social Security. (3) Immigrants tend to fill niches in the labor market where demand is highest relative to supply, complementing rather than directly competing with American workers. (4) Many immigrants arrive with extremely high skill levels, and virtually all, regardless of skill level, bring a strong desire to work. (5) Their children tend to reach high levels of achievement in American schools and in society at large.”

With that in mind consider the fact that the dependency ratio in the U.S. is increasing. The dependency ratio is the number of dependents divided by the number of people of working age. The reason it has been increasing is due to a decline in the fertility rate, the retirement of baby boomers, and the increasing life expectancy of retirees.

So we should not be worrying so much about the immigrants that are coming into our country. Rather what we should be worrying about is the shameful manner in which they are being scapegoated.

Yes, we need to address issues having to do with the cost of providing the children of immigrants (documented and undocumented) with the education they need and deserve and that will benefit us as well as them. But we need to address those issues with reason and compassion not with anger and hatred.

Norwalk native September 19, 2019 at 7:36 pm

I am young enough that I will see the day when the very Liberal voters of Norwalk will have had enough of endless tax increases to pay for educating kids who are not in this country lawfully. I look for to that day. TYRANNY takes many forms. The power to tax endlessly without any percievalbe benefit to the population being taxed is the reason we have a Coonecticut and a United States in the first place
To Paul Cantor I would ask: do you believe that our Congress has the power to pass laws? Yes or no? Because our Congress has decided that these children are here Illegally. That means UNLAWFULLY.

Norwalk native September 19, 2019 at 7:38 pm

The NPS system exists to teach illegals to speak English. No one who could afford otherwise would send their children to NPS. Every day, it becomes more segregated and less and less like the community it is supposed to represent.

Paul Cantor September 19, 2019 at 7:40 pm

In response to the comment that undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes:

“Undocumented immigrants are taxpayers too and collectively contribute an estimated $11.74 billion to state and local coffers each year via a combination of sales and excise, personal income, and property taxes, according to Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. On average, the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants pay 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes every year.”
https://itep.org/immigration/

TRS September 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

I moved to an “expensive” part of Norwalk with my husband and our two young children a few years ago from North Carolina.
While we like diversity, I was in my kindergarten child’s classroom for the first week of school recently. I seriously couldn’t believe that our non-diverse community (for lack of a better term) had so many Spanish speaking kids!
As I said, I’m new to the school system….but how does that happen? I can assure you that no neighbors on our street have ELL children. *I didn’t even know what ELL meant before clicking on this article.
We have made several friends who live in New Canaan and Darien. I called them today, and they said they hardly have any foreign-born students in their schools.
To John: why do you keep saying our “liberal suburban neighbors?” Everybody I know in New Canaan and Darien are fellow Republicans and Trump supporters! Aren’t the Connecticut suburbs known for their wealth/conservative politics?
Why aren’t the illegal immigrants moving to these towns, instead? How are they all ending up in Norwalk and Stamford…and not Wilton, New Canaan, Westport, and Darien?
They should have all the ELL students go to the same school…because I really feel like it’s taking away from our child’s education. I feel so bad for the teachers…they don’t speak Spanish. Do what is best for BOTH subsets of students…have separate schools, so advanced learning can take place for the American students, and language can be taught to the ELL students.
Seriously considering moving to a different town or trying a private school.

Paul Lanning September 19, 2019 at 8:43 pm

The kids are the future; they’re here, and must be given every advantage. Don’t expect Congress to do its job. They won’t.

Norwalk should solicit neighboring towns’ financial support for its over-burdened school system. “Hate Doesn’t Live There”, but Help does and we need to go after it.

Bridget P September 19, 2019 at 9:05 pm

“Illegal aliens are net consumers of taxpayer-funded services and the limited taxes paid by some segments of the illegal alien population are, in no way, significant enough to offset the growing financial burdens imposed on U.S. taxpayers by massive numbers of uninvited guests. This study examines the fiscal impact of illegal aliens as reflected in both federal and state budgets”

Also, this research group estimated that illegal immigration cost Connecticut taxpayers $1.14 billion in 2017. They also break it out to a cost of $6,326 per illegal alien. Link below

https://www.fairus.org/issue/publications-resources/fiscal-burden-illegal-immigration-united-states-taxpayers

Paul Cantor September 19, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Here is what Wikipedia writes about the research group touted by Bridget P as contradicting the finding of reputable researchers with no ax to grind regarding the positive impact undocumented immigrants have had on our economy:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) currently classifies FAIR as a hate group, citing among other things the organization’s anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes, its acceptance of $1.2 million from a racist foundation, the Pioneer Fund, its hiring as key officials men who also joined white supremacist groups, having board members who also write regularly for hate publications, its promotion of racist conspiracy theories, and the white supremacist beliefs of its founder. In 1982, John Tanton wrote “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion.”[7][48] The SPLC issued an intelligence report in 2007, after which they added FAIR to its list of hate groups.[48]

For more about FAIR go here https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/27/shadowy-network-shaping-trumps-anti-immigration-policies/

Bridget P September 19, 2019 at 10:06 pm

For more about the SPLC which is reference by the prior commentator (Southern Poverty Law Center), please read 12 Ways The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Scam To Profit From Hate-Mongering.

Among some of the issues raised, “SPLC propaganda seems to encourage hoax hate crimes. There has been a recent surge of hoax hate crimes. In part, I believe this is due to the far reach of the SPLC’s propaganda and agitation machine, which has maligned legitimate think tanks and advocacy centers like the Family Research Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Center for Security Policy. It also has smeared eminent scholars like Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as well as pediatric neurosurgeon (now secretary of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson.”

https://thefederalist.com/2017/05/17/12-ways-southern-poverty-law-center-scam-profit-hate-mongering/

Norwalk Lost September 19, 2019 at 10:27 pm

@Bridget and Paul – while ideal to believe that illegal immigration is a net benefit, the numbers say otherwise

“Illegal immigrants in fact absorb far more in benefits than they contribute. The Heritage Foundation in 2013 found that illegals contribute an average of $10,000 in total taxes (federal and payroll as well as local taxes) but use almost $24,000 in welfare and services, creating a net $14,000 per capita gain per illegal worker. . . Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, said Heritage understates actual welfare use by illegals by its use of the federal government’s Current Population Survey. “In a more recent study where I looked at welfare use only (not taxes or other expense) using the much more accurate Survey of Income and Program Participation, I found that 62% of households headed by illegal immigrants used at least one major welfare program,” Camarota told IBD via email”

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/sorry-but-illegal-aliens-cost-the-u-s-plenty/

Eric Niederer September 19, 2019 at 11:28 pm

So many more comments to make but will stick with a few. I understand the economic strain and many mandates without funding creates issues. I have no issue with Districts seeking further funding assistance and it can be debated as to what is an equitable distribution based on micro and macro socioeconomic needs and resources. But many taxpayers will cry out whenever taxes are raised or redistributed, and many will never admit when they get a fair distribution. I spoke several times to fully fund the BOE budget ask despite being a tax payer contributing more than the average. I never complained about taxes even before I had kids, and if you know me I am no sheep. I just understand that we are all a cog in the wheel and need to contribute on an equitable, not equal, basis based on ability as the fortunate, and not disabled or disadvantaged. I am fortunate to have abilities and opportunities, and a lack of some barriers, that others do not. I feel an obligation to contribute what I can without knocking others down or seeing what is in it for me, but that’s me. If that is your mode, then why should anyone else care about you. Is that the society we want? Society erodes when we stop caring about others, especially others without personal connection to us.

The US Supreme Court holds that legal and illegal children are entitled to a public education whether one likes it or not. We are a nation of laws, as we like to claim superiority over other nations. We need to follow the law until or unless it changes. No issue from me if you advocate for a change if you try to appreciate everyone’s interests, not just your own, and decide on an educated and rational basis, rather than on emotion and bias.

Regarding what taxes illegal or undocumented immigrants (whatever your preferred term is) pay, I reasonably infer illegal immigrants pay sales tax unless there is a massive black market that only illegal immigrants know of where all kinds of consumer goods and sundries can be purchased without paying sales tax. I assume they pay for registration for any vehicle they own or use a registered vehicle with taxes paid, or be subject to impoundment. I know at least some illegal immigrants pay income and FICO taxes without getting the benefits of the system they have paid into. How do I know, because I worked with an illegal immigrant when I was a minor and saw his pay check with deductions. I learned he was illegal when he was not at work one day and I was told that immigration and naturalization caught him and sent him back to a South or Central American country (I don’t recall now which country as this happened in the early 1980s). Nicest guy. He used to call me boss because I was the son of his boss. I felt very weird about that as I was about 8 years old at the time, he was an adult and I was tasked to assist him. I told him he didn’t need to call me boss but he continued to do so. So I started calling him boss or sir so he understood I respected him. The things people do for a better life. I would much rather he be my neighbor that some selfish and angry people in our community.

And just so there are no misunderstandings, I am not an “open borders” person and like our laws followed. But I do try to practice and promote mutual respect and an unbiased immigration system. A biased immigration system with unsupported and uneducated offensive rhetoric about groups of people no ones actually knows is not what I consider patriotic or based on American principles. It is just a continuation of the nonsensical rhetoric of ages past used on most new immigration groups to the US. Also our enemies love our divisiveness of cultural superiority, and if anything, I want to and have served protecting the US from our enemies.

For the anti-immigration group, what consistitutes a citizen of the United States? It’s not in the Constitution. So the Founding Fathers, who I generally respect for trying to put together a framework based on enlightened principles for the most part (but let’s not forget the 3/5 provision which is less than enlightened- I hope everyone here who is a citizen has actually read the entire US Constitution and gets that reference), wrote a social, political and economic contract among the States and citizens without defining what a citizen is. A natural citizen is undefined. In the law, we would generally consider that malpractice if a contract was written without mandatory terms defined which could prevent any reasonable interpretation or enforceability. Maybe we are all illegal immigrants. Words for thought.

And yes, I understand the federal government has gap-filled the Constitutional omission just like with the authority for income taxes, but it is scary that one administration vs another may seek to change the definition of what a citizen is without any clear Constitutional basis when that is the basic prerequisite to remain in the US (aside from visas, permanent resident status, etc) and enjoy all the rights of a US citizen. As a citizen born in this country, it is scary that being born in the US may not be sufficient qualification to be recognized as a US citizen in the future. Oh boy, I may be an illegal immigrant and hope I don’t get deported. I have difficulties learning languages and may not be well received in another country in which I cannot speak the designated tongue. I guess I may experience what some non-English immigrants face in this country, unless that country is more accepting of diversity. One pillar of the judicial branch regarding interpretation of laws is predictability so people can understand and attempt to comply with the law. Otherwise injustice may and probably will occur. Who is a US citizen under the authority of the Constitution? Who is a citizen/resident of Connecticut? That is a relevant question as the US is a federalist system based on State rights- people in the federalist society should get this question. If you are a resident of the State of Connecticut, then shouldn’t you be automatically a citizen of the US based on state rights and constitutional construction at the time of the signing? I know it doesn’t work like that but again an example of work around the federal government does based on policy and biases of the leaders at the time, which can be ever shifting. Admittedly, I am not a constitutional scholar despite taking the required Constitutional Law class many moons ago but these are issues I learned in by political science, history and law classes over the years and being reasonably well read. Any constitutional scholars here want to weigh-in with peer reviewed or authoritative citation?

We need to stop the fear baiting. My whole life I have heard that the government systems are failing and are unsustainable due to this left policy or that right policy, that there is economic inequity against the tax payers, illegal immigration is a national, social, political and economic crisis, etc, etc. No end of the US has occurred and I believe that immigration has continued to fuel our economy, put fruits and vegetables on the table at a good price and build our houses among other contributions (although I wish workers with whatever immigration status are treated and paid fairly while here as a just society). I’m not scared of the legal or illegal immigrant, and not sure why others are. Of course our markets have eroded. It’s called globalization and competition, which the laissez faire proponents in this country who are so ardently against government regulations should embrace as their philosophical economic realization. The US had the vast majority of the global economy post World War II because most of the world was destroyed. There is no going back to that market share, unless we think burning down most of the developing or developed world is a good thing. And it’s not from illegal immigration. What we do need is respectful relationships and equity, rather than selfish money grabs and protectionist posture. If you are willing to work hard and be innovative, you don’t need to worry about competition from illegal immigrants. In my experience they largely pay their own way and are relied upon by many in the economic strata.

Now back to finish my work for the night because I have a fidicuary duty to my employer and can contribute a little more to the economy and tax base. My job is much easier than an immigrant working 2 or 3 jobs to makes ends meet and pay taxes which they will likely never see the benefits from their contributions. Some extra cost for ELL learners is a good investment in my book even if I pay a little more in taxes and I don’t get any direct benefit from as family of English speakers. If we can get a bit more federal or state dollars great, if not, I am confident Norwalk will not cease to exist as we know it from the claimed cataclysmic events we face. Good night.

(No time to proof so grammar warriors have fun, but hope you get the gist of my perspective.)

Sue Haynie September 20, 2019 at 8:51 am

Mayor Rilling and his Assistant Mayor prove once again that top-heavy administrations aren’t more efficient, just more expensive.

Rilling is either oblivious to Norwalk trends, passing the buck or is not being truthful, he had to have seen this coming, it’s not ‘new’ news.

Federal funds! Good luck with that. Rilling’s probably already been told that the State won’t help with $$$. All this is on Norwalk taxpayers and homeowners.

“ Rilling said, “I certainly feel that the city of Norwalk and the Board of Education should be meeting on a regular basis to discuss this issue, making sure we have our arms around it, making sure that we’re dealing with in the proper fashion.”

Margaret K. Suib, Esq., Fair Housing Officer September 20, 2019 at 10:28 am

Immigration policy needs reform, no doubt. That is the job of the federal government, under the U.S. Constitution.

Children registering for school in Norwalk (as is required by law), are for us to educate, hopefully in a welcoming, kind way.

I spent a year living in France and attended a French public high school. I spoke not one word when I arrived (ok, I could say “Bon Jour”…). Within 6 months I was nearly fluent. I was a burden to them, but never treated or made to feel that way, and France has not benefitted from educating me.

Children learn another language incredibly quickly and will soon speak English very well. A small investment in such children is an investment in the workforce of tomorrow.

FYI, my great-grandparents arrived in America around the turn of the 20th century, fleeing poverty and anti Semitism in eastern Europe (today’s Poland and Romania). They came with the clothes on their back. They moved into crowded lower East Side apartments with their “kinsmen” from the old country. The kids went to school in NYC. They learned English.

My grandfather had his first after-school-job at 8 years old, hawking the afternoon newspaper on a street corner. He served in our military in World War I, in the trenches of France.

When he retired from work, he retired as the Education Editor of the NY Sun newspaper.

Immigrants have always entered America as a “burden”, and given back to America 10 fold.

This is how America has always been. Unfortunately, whether the huge Jewish immigration from eastern Europe, around 1900, or the Irish immigration, or the more recent immigration from Latin America, people have always come when desperate, when their lives were threatened, when they are poor, without the language, and have ALWAYS faced discrimination… until the next wave of people from somewhere else becomes the target of discrimination.

We need to rise above. Whatever kids show up, they are part of our community, we are now their village, and those who speak about laws — it’s the law that we educate them.

These same children will soon be working and paying our social security, so when you invest in their education, you are investing in your own retirement.

Non Partisan September 20, 2019 at 10:59 am

We are all immigrants
Prior to the 60’s we came to a country for religious, political freedom and economic opportunity.

Our immigrant forefathers had to stand on their own two feet -and quickly as there were limited social programs and ELL did not exist. We assimilated into the American culture and looked down on those who didn’t

Today’s immigrant comes to a land that embraces multiculturalism and a plethora of programs. many of us dinosaur republican conservatives see this as unsustainable both financially and socially.

For those who tout the benefits of immigration – you are correct.
For those who are angered by the costs – you should be angry.

What we need is balance. Our neighboring towns have zoning laws that limit the percentage of lower income people they have to support in education and social services. We in Norwalk have gone the other way- limited zoning enforcement, and zoning requirements that encourage low income and sub par housing. Our sanctuary city policies are a magnet that attracts new immigrant ( both legal and illegal)

As the percentage of ELL students increases- test scores go down- programs for EFL ( English as a First Language) disappear- and overall single family home values fall.

The question is simple. What percentage of an economically balanced society can the wealthy and middle class afford to support.?

Maybe start with zoning enforcement and a look at all of our policies. Do we want to be a city of only new immigrants- because just like global climate change – we will got a breaking point- the wealthy and middle class will run away and finances will spiral down.

Are there ANY GROWN UPs in the room ?

Paul Lanning September 20, 2019 at 2:15 pm

“What percentage of an economically balanced society can the wealthy and middle class afford to support.?”

The billionaires and multi-millionaires in our 4 surrounding towns can afford a lot. Norwalk should formally request money for our schools from these towns.

BOB GIOLITTO September 20, 2019 at 2:48 pm

The words on The Statue Of Liberty say: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” It doesn’t say only people who speak English, only white people, only educated people. It says “your wretched refuse.” I am part of a group that tutors these kids. THEY ARE HERE LEGALLY. THEY WORK HARD. THEY ARE RESPECTFUL. Fine to criticize but get the facts straight. And if you claim to be an American, read what Liberty has on her book.

Tony P September 20, 2019 at 4:23 pm

TRS – Not really sure who you’re talking to in Darien – as an educator there, I can tell you we are getting more ELLs, and in fact, last week, my entire building went through professional development on ELLs. Difference is, we have no idea how to help them, and throw things at the wall that we think might help. Norwalk’s teachers are more progressive and able to adapt to todays learners – they actually educate their ELLs. Additionally, you’re advocating segregation. Separate but equal was ruled unconstitutional.

John ONeill September 20, 2019 at 4:37 pm

I agree with Paul Lanning….Let’s “shame” these non-diverse towns into paying their fair share to Norwalk..OR, open up their school systems to these children. I’m sure Westport would step up to the plate. Regionalization would certainly go a long way to resolving this issue. Where’s Will Haskell on this subject? What about Bob Duff?

John ONeill September 20, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Tony P: Darien has maybe 50 ELL students, maybe? Norwalk will have 2,200 once latest group registers. We need surrounding towns that won’t accept these immigrants to support our efforts. I believe CT is a sanctuary state, which is fine as long as state picks up the tab. In lieu of state picking up the tab, our neighboring towns should help pick up the tab..Any progressives living in these other towns should jump at the chance to share their resources, don’t you think?

Paul Lanning September 20, 2019 at 6:20 pm

Although our neighboring towns reject regionalizing, an effective presentation of our school system’s strengths and pressing needs could persuade town officials to help us.

Jim Corr September 20, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Remove illegal hispanics from Norwalk. They create noise and crime. Litter has increased. There are cars parked on lawns. Teen gangs terrorizing neighborhoods. Enforce Housing Regulations. Fine employers. Cooperate with ICE. Get rid of Rilling.

Another Opinion September 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Why all off a sudden is everyone so surprised by this? The major trends of this city is its large and growing Central American and Latino population. Whether illegal or legal, we owe these children a quality education and a lot of compassion. Free market capitalism dictates that if you do not like it here we can live elsewhere. I just don’t understand why other municipalities should bare the burden of educating these children. Some have pointed the finger at poor zoning and enforcement on illicit apartments fueling this . . . I’m not sure if this is true or not but for arguments sake lets say it’s part of the issue. Should any city expect neighboring towns to compensate for its planning or lack of thereof? Probably not.

What’s salient in this discussion is the unfair redistribution of the city’s tax dollars to Hartford. And without any rectification of this issue, we can expect more of the same from our choices of elected leaders who have not impact-fully addressed this issue. The spiraling cost structure here and statewide is problematic and despite all the “let’s take one for the team” the state is in trouble and unfortunately the blinders are still on the elected leaders. As such. we should expect more of the same.

John ONeill September 20, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Another Opinion: Good points. Couple of things: Would be better if you used your real name..The reason surrounding communities should kick in is because towns like Westport have been pushing open border policies without stepping up financially. Their policy seems to be let’s help these immigrants, just not in our backyard. I’m happy to be in a community that is stepping up but our system and resources sre getting overrun. What happens 12 months from now when another 500 ELL kids enroll in our school system? Shouldn’t we be planning now for that reasonable possibility. Rilling and Dems should be thinking ahead before lights go out in city hall. Progressives from wealthy towns owe us.

George September 21, 2019 at 7:50 am

I’m I reading some of these comments correctly? Norwalk has elected a libreal mayor and commoon council who are more concerned about banning straws and allowing illegals to take away services from legal taxpaying citizens.

Now you want your poor choices to try to get other towns to pay for your poor choices?

I made a choice to leave my home town of Norwalk years ago for a town that knows how to maintain a low property tax rate, healthy tax base, housing prices and spending.

We already lost the return of tax money from the State because of your liberal choices.

Now suck up your choices and fix them or live with them on your own.

Good luck.

John ONeill September 21, 2019 at 8:46 am

But George, the vast majority of people from towns like Westport claim to be progressive. Why wouldn’t they want to share their resources? I don’t understand why they would not. Are you inferring that they’re hypocrites? That would shock me!

Non Partisan September 21, 2019 at 2:08 pm

To reply to all those who think our neighboring towns should pay for our sanctuary city policies I’m reminded of Margaret Thatchers famous lime

Socialism is the greatest form of government- until you run out of other people’s money to spend

Maybe Norwalk needs to have policies that we can afford- not pie in The sky wishes. I taught my children that if they can’t afford something- they can’t have it.

Progressives are bankrupting our city and change is over due.

Joe September 21, 2019 at 2:51 pm

350 X $14,000 (avg cost of NPS) = $4,900,000/yr.

This is the exorbitant cost of the democrat/chamber of commerce sanctuary city regime.

No wonder so many of our retirees are forced to leave their families, friends and doctors to escape to redneck heat zones down south.

Norwalkers have become the stupid people the president talks about.

Paul Lanning September 21, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Norwalk is responsible for the kids’ education. We need solutions NOW, not platitudes, accusations, finger-pointing and name-calling.

John ONeill September 21, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Non-Partisan et al…State of CT IS sanctuary. .they set this is motion..they should pay for it..Along with progressives from neighboring towns..This will only get bigger…Scary

George September 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

Mr. O’Neill. Perhaps you forgot about Westport giving bus tickets to their homeless people in the 1980’s plus.

Those tickets provided bus fare for the people to come to the Norwalk Homeless shelter for the night.

Westport has turned liberal as people from NYC moved in. They fully support the illegals as long as they do not live in their town.

Darien and New Canaan has remained steadfast with their values and have not given in to the thinkings of most of the “give everything away for free” state.

Manuel September 21, 2019 at 9:28 pm

To Paul’s point in searching for solutions, wouldn’t it be nice if the city or volunteer groups solicited corporate or philanthropic donations to fund a portion of these costs to alleviate the pressure from property owners? Norwalk’s large retail establishments come to mind as potential donors/sponsors. Norwalk’s diversity and welcoming towards ELL /migrant children is an asset and should attract outside sponsorship. Does anyone know if the city has any personnel to solicit donations?

Non Partisan September 21, 2019 at 10:09 pm

@ john O’Neill.
Agree- ct is a sanctity state. Does Norwalk need to roll out the red carpet ant take an unlimited number of illegal immigrants. I think not. That is our choice and that choice will lead to a bridgeportifocation of this city. The wealthy will run. The middle class will leave. And all you will have left is poor people who don’t pay taxes.

Solution – aggressive zoning enforcement, combined with a moratorium on new subsidized housing.

Lisa Brinton September 22, 2019 at 8:53 am

Complicated issue. Complicated times. Complicated solutions. Even more complicated politics when the former police chief mayor claims Norwalk is ‘growing’ and a former fundraising PTA President turned mayoral candidate says, ‘we need a time out.’

The state’s sanctuary policy is out of step with its education cost sharing formula to aid municipalities like Norwalk. Other education policies like mainstream versus streamed classes creates instructional issues for everyone.

Our own planning and zoning and ordinance enforcement has been broken for over a decade.

It’s hard to fund social justice when private sector jobs are declining in the state or when nearly half of city hall makes more than the median family salary in Norwalk or when government defined ‘affordable housing’ costs more to construct than the median price of a family home.

We have serious structural and financial issues that have been festering for over a decade. Adding thousands of fortress like apartments, while also doling out tax credits has not helped. This won’t be an easy fix. Trade offs will have to happen.

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