Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ask the Ann Arbor School Board to Vote No on Tuition-Based Program

I was surprised--and not happily--to see this headline from the Ann Arbor News:

Tuition-based Program Would Bring Chinese Students to Ann Arbor High Schools.

The key things to know, from the article:

A new plan* proposed to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education Wednesday evening would place up to 200 students from China in the city's high schools each year...The district is considering a partnership with BCC International Education Group, a Chinese-American company that has already created similar programs bringing Chinese high school students to Dexter and Saline.
*This idea (or something quite similar) was actually discussed, and rejected, a few years ago in the Pat Green era.

Here's the letter I just sent to the school board. You can send emails to the school board at:

Dear Board of Ed-- 

I'm writing to ask you to oppose the proposed contract with a firm to bring in up to 200 Chinese tuition-paying students. 
We already have at least two exchange programs in the schools--Youth for Understanding and AFS--both programs devoted to bringing students from around the world, including--among many other countries--China. Did you know that YFU started in Ann Arbor as an exchange program with Germany post-World War II? Or that AFS's origins lie in the aftermath of World War I with a similar goal of inter-cultural understanding?  
Ann Arbor also hosts the USA's U-18 hockey program.  
I'm not sure exactly how many students come through these three programs but I think it's something in the range of 100 students.  
All of these programs rely on host family volunteers, and it's not so easy to find them. I know intimately what is involved, because we hosted a student from Sweden last year and a student from Uruguay the year before, both with YFU. Both were great experiences but it does involve a fair bit of work, and (I know I'm repeating myself) it's not easy to find host families.  
I asked several families this year if they could take a student, and none of them felt they were in a position to do it. And, in fact, just today I got an email asking for a host family for a student who needs to leave his current family--and that happens too, sometimes, in the middle of the year. 
I do understand the desire to bring in money for the district, but I don't think this is a good way. And I would say this even if I hadn't heard, today, that the Oxford School District has had a very negative experience with this company.  
With the current exchange programs the student in my house brought in the same per-pupil funding as every other student in the district, thus adding to the district's census.  
I'm asking you to vote no on this. 
Ruth Kraut

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  1. I heard recently that the U18 hockey team will be practicing in Canton area - I can't find confirmation on the website, but this could mean hockey players will attend Plymouth/Canton schools...

  2. Ok - Found an article. They are practicing in Plymouth but most are still billeted in Ann Arbor:

    1. You are correct--Jeanice Swift let me know this morning that next year the U18 hockey students will be in the Plymouth-Canton school district. I think she said there are 44 of them, so that is a potential loss of 44 students.

  3. I was checking around on the Michigan Board of Education web site and found this document.\
    It appears from this document that the Chinese students can either be charged tuition by a Michigan K-12 school OR they can be counted as resident students for the foundation allowance from the state of Michigan but NOT both. So the budget AAPS has put together is either a sham, or they will skirt the law and have BCC pay $10k tuition per student to the AAPS Foundation and then "granted" to AAPS for program overhead and more World Language teachers. In either case, exchange students and F-1 students who are not legally "residents" of the school district are limited by the State of Michigan Board of Education to 1 year (calendar year?) or less in K-12 public schools.

    Digging into the situation in Oxford a little deeper, the root of the failure of BCC's program there was that very few 12th grade students were ready for the college-level courses they needed to be "dual enrolled" and therefore eligible for F-1 visas through OCC or Oakland University. Not to mention that a business partner of BCC had built a dorm in Oxford to get around the lack of host families, but living together outside school hours meant the Chinese students didn't get enough practice with English.

    1. The dual enrollment is a way to attempt to skirt the law. If the student is here a second year on a F1 visa they shouldn't be able to step foot in the high school. If they are in the high school working on a degree (diploma) they are high school students and violating the F1 visa.