Letters to the Editor

To the Editor: A Response to Coverage of the CAMD Scholar Project

A Response to Coverage of the CAMD Scholar Project To the Editor: First, thank you for the coverage thus far of the CAMD Scholar Project.  There are a few inaccuracies in the article concerning the migrant education presentation that took place on October 12.  It was written that “…the language barrier is the biggest challenge facing migrant families, who almost exclusively speak Spanish.”  This is simply not true.  84% of farm workers speak Spanish as a first language; this statistic says nothing about other languages spoken in farm worker families. (To date, I have not found any data on what percentage of migrant workers speak Spanish.) All of the children that I worked with over the summer were fluent in English and actually had a better command over English than Spanish.  The second part of my report was a case study, in which the parents did not speak English.  Perhaps this is where the confusion stemmed from.  It was also stated that “Schools usually only contact the [migrant] parents in English.” I cannot support such a vague statement—Schools in other countries or states may do so, but it is my understanding that in Alachua County, where the case study was conducted, schools generally give parents the option of sending homes notes in Spanish, English or both.  There is also the presence of bilingual faculty members in Alachua County public schools. A few more corrections: I did not work at a small public school—I worked with a small summer school program that was not related to any public school. Also, migrant workers are not necessarily “paid by the bushel” (one does not pick a bushel of blueberries, for instance). I cannot make generalizations about how migrant workers are paid because it varies by farm. At one farm in Alachua County, migrant workers can work in packing houses, where they are paid by the hour.  The pickers are paid by the number of buckets of berries they picked. If they do not make the minimum wage by the end of the day, then they are paid it by default. Thanks again, Mary Krome ’09