A Maryland chapter of the NAACP and the Latino activist group Casa de Maryland are squaring off over a plan to open two new schools to help immigrant students learn English.
The Prince George’s County chapter of the NAACP calls the facilities “separate but unequal,” and its president, Bob Ross, fears that money for the schools will be diverted from black schoolchildren, WUSA 9 in Washington, D.C. reports.
But Casa de Maryland claims that the facilities will help immigrant students assimilate into society. Supporters of the schools also cite a statistic that nearly half of non-English speaking students in the county drop out before graduating.
The schools, which would be operated by CASA International, are scheduled to open in August. The Carnegie Foundation will provide $3 million in seed money, but more would be needed to keep them afloat.
But Ross and the NAACP are appealing to the Prince George’s County Executive to quash the plan.
“It goes back to separate but equal. And we fought that battle 50 years ago,” Ross told WUSA.
“This is a very awkward position because black and brown, people try to say we have the same struggles,” Ross continued. “But I sort of take it a little differently. We don’t have the same struggles because we came here for 400 years of slavery and moved forward. People who are arriving now are coming of their own free accord.”
The schools’ backers claim that funds will not be siphoned off from existing county schools.
“Ultimately it benefits the community to have kids not drop out, stay in school and graduate,” Casa de Maryland’s Robert Asprilla told WUSA.