From the Superintendent: Honoring Many Milestones for Hmong in Saint Paul

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Dear Colleagues:

The Pioneer Press has been highlighting that 40 years ago this year, the first Hmong settlers arrived in St. Paul. This also marked a milestone for Saint Paul Public Schools, as Hmong students began enrolling in our schools. Today, more than one in five SPPS students is Hmong.

The Hmong presence in our schools has added such richness to our classrooms and programs. Our first Hmong Dual Language Program started in 2006 at Jackson Elementary, then in 2008 Phalen Lake Elementary became a Hmong Magnet School. We think Phalen Lake may be the first and possibly only such school in the United States.

Students at Jackson continue their Hmong studies at Washington Technology Magnet through 12th grade, and students at Phalen Lake continue on through Battle Creek Middle and Harding High Schools.

I believe all of us have marveled at the promise of the Hmong families and students who left their homelands to make a better life for their families in Minnesota. Today we have four Hmong principals in SPPS, as well as three Hmong assistant principals and one Hmong administrative intern. A local Harding grad, Kao Kalia Yang, has chronicled her family’s journey in a beautiful memoir entitled “The Latehomecomer.” Four students in one Hmong family were or are vying for valedictorian at Johnson High School. Several Hmong leaders sat on our Board of Education, including Director Chue Vue today.

Unfortunately, such achievement is not the case for all our Hmong students. While Asian American MCA scores are the highest of our non-White student groups, the scores are still approximately 25 percentage points behind those of White students. As we move into the second year of Strong Schools, Strong Communities 2.0, we must redouble our efforts to meet the individual learning needs of all students.

I am grateful to live in a community that embraced the Hmong when they left their home, and I’m proud that today many Hmong people -- as I do -- call Minnesota home.

Nej tus thawj tswj koog tsev kawm ntawv uas muaj kev zoo siab heev,

Your very proud superintendent,

Silva Signature

 

Valeria S. Silva