Letter: Meng-Che “Melvin” Tsai, Fairfax

Editor: After reading the Loudoun Now article entitled “A Setback in Their Dreams; Administrators: Time’s Up for Some Immigrant Students” dated Feb. 8; which discusses the recent implementation of the school system’s policy regarding immigrant students aged 20 years and older, we must explore why our education system does not give those youths an opportunity to complete their education.

The policy says that students must have eight or fewer credits to graduate by their 20th birthday to receive a waiver to remain in the public school system. If they require more than eight credits, they must leave without the possibility of receiving high school diploma. Although most high school students are expected to graduate before age 21, some of the immigrant student, unfortunately, may not meet this requirement because of various reasons such as their age when they moved to the U.S. and/or the number of credits they need to take in order to graduate.

In the past, administration gave waivers to some of the immigrant students for another school year in order to complete the English Language Learner courses (ELL) which required these students to improve their English ability. I believe that when a student first enrolls in the school system, they are assessed to see what credits are needed in order to graduate. At that time, various possible options should be presented instead of allowing these students to start classes thinking that they are on track to graduate, when in reality, they will be dismissed from the school system because graduation is not a real option due to their age. Those students ought to have rights to complete their high school education and get high school diplomas since they were accepted to attend school.

Immigrant students come to the U.S. to pursue a better life. Education is a path which can give them opportunities to achieve their goals. For these students who will not be allowed to study in high schools because of their age, this decision will destroy their dreams and close doors in the future. Because these students will not be able to obtain a high school diploma, those immigrant students are unable to access ideal jobs and will have to pay for expenses related to getting a Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED) compared to having access to the free public school education.

Although the school system adminstration decides to seriously implement this policy now even though it has existed for years, those students who get waivers have shown that they study hard in school and intend to complete their high school education. I do not think that requiring immigrant students to leave school and providing them with only one option that will cost more is a good idea. It sounds a punishment rather than a solution. Considering their situations, I believe that we should not stop but give them a chance to obtain a high school diploma not for only rights but also dreams and the future.

Meng-Che “Melvin” Tsai, Fairfax

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