Thank you to those that attended the education forum, “Calling the Attention to the Needs of Hmong Students”, held by the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans at the Hmong Village in St. Paul. Danny Lee, CAPM board member welcomed over 50 students, parents, educators, educational professionals, and concerned community members were in attendance to hear about the Hmong achievement gap in Minnesota’s public schools.
“The Hmong are the largest Asian ethnicity in Minnesota. Yet, according to the Department of Education, only 36.6% of Hmong students are proficient in math and only 46.6% in reading. The achievement gap is becoming more alarming,” states Souvan Lee, research analyst for the Council. After the presentation of the Council’s report, Asian Pacific Students in Minnesota: Facts, not Fiction, attendees heard from a panel of dedicated professionals in the field of education.
“We are not talking about students not having the capacity. It’s about, how do we provide the support and having the system and infrastructure work together to make the students successful,” stated Rose Chu Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Education.
“I am also a Hmong parent and for the Hmong parents, please don’t say that we don’t know anything whether we have formal education or not. We all do have a lot of knowledge and we need to believe in ourselves so that we can support our kids and be their role models so that they can believe in themselves as well,” says Kazoua Kong-Thao (*note this was translated from Hmong) Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity for Minneapolis Public Schools.
Minneapolis School Board Member, Rebecca Gagnon, stated that “We need to have the same high expectations for everybody and not see the fact that you don’t speak English as a deficit…it’s a benefit.”
Bee Lee, Parent Academic Administrator of St. Paul Public Schools was also present to comment on the Hmong Achievement Gap. Juavah Lee, Assistant Director for Engagement and Outreach at the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence moderated the panel.
Small group discussions led to suggestions for what schools and teachers could to do differently including; increasing the communications and interaction among staff and parents, giving parents more specific instruction on what to do, observe the things that do work and implement useful techniques that lead to success. To read more about the discussions please follow this Ed Forum Comments and Notes.
We hope that everyone will continue this conversation and work in your respective organizations. We would also like to give thanks for everyone’s thoughtful insight and expertise as educators, parents, and community members; this will help us with our future efforts as we continue to work with lawmakers to address the achievement gap and the state’s education policy.
For slides, Hmong Education Forum slides
For more information, contact Souvan Lee at email@example.com or call at 651-757-1742.