Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Minds of Inner City Youth Are an Untapped Treasure

In Crown Heights, the story that follows has been widely discussed in many hassidic homes with understandable pride. I heard from Mr. Waronker of his assignment to the South Bronx soon after it was finalised. His care and concern for the well being of his students was truly touching. He has a contagious optimism that he brings to the most seemingly intractable situations.
My personal field of interest is matters of linguistic integration of non-English speaking minorities. My German speaking grandparents used to mix an increasing percentage of English into their spoken German. It reached the point where it was not English and not quite German either. This is very common among transplanted linguistic groups.
The advantage of learning English in economic advancement is widely discussed and well known. Spanish is also an increasingly sought language in international business. Learning to use it in a grammatically correct manner is a prerequisite for its being useful in business. In addition to English speakers, Hispanics speaking Spanish learned in an environment dominated by English face problems similar to those faced by my German speaking grandparents and also my grandparents who spoke Croatian.
My father , despite being fluent in German, took a course in the language when he was in university so his written and spoken use of the language would command respect.
I do not know much Spanish at all, but the diversity of Spanish speaking groups in the western hemisphere has always fascinated me . The tradition handed down in our family that we are descended from Spanish Jews deepens my interest and partially explains it. Discussing language education with Mr. Waronker has always been a pleasure. He has a deep appreciation for the diversity in the Spanish speaking western hemisphere. His devotion to his Jewish faith is something that I have found contagious and inspiring. A strong spiritual thirst is widespread in the Hispanic communities. Mr. Waronker has shown in word and deed his appreciation that we are all children of one G-d. I am sure that this resonates with the many people of faith whose lives he has touched.
Decades after graduating from high school, there are certain teachers I still recall with gratitude. Mr. Waronker will himself be fondly remembered by many . What is far more important is that he is creating a calm and orderly environment in which teachers will have the chance to be remembered as educators and mentors. I sincerely hope that his personal and professional example is emulated and studied
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

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