St. Paul, MN – Stephanie Khang, the Principal of a Hmong Charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota, has rolled out a pilot program titled “No Bull”, aimed at helping her students succeed in school and in life. The program outlines three main goals: the first goal is to abide by their school’s mission statement for cultural immersion, the second goal is to follow through with national standards for education and physical education, and the last goal is to foster more involvement between faculty members and parents.
Khang has stated that the attitudes of Hmong people towards education has changed over time. When Khang came to the United States in 1976 her parents both wanted her to get an education and live the life they were not able to live. To them, earning an education was a means of survival. Khang has described Hmong parents and students these days as being too relaxed. “That need for survival drove us to work hard and get a better education to succeed in this world. We no longer have that sense of survival in our kids,” said Khang.This coming school year as part ofthe new refugee immersion curriculum, or nicknamed “The FOB studies”, students can expect a different kind of lunch that may be all too familiar with their parents. Rice in water and microwaved hot dogs. On the first Thursday of every month, students that have above average performances will be given a Whopper as a reward for their hard work.
After lunch time, students will then engage in new physical activities that include jumping over a rope made from rubber bands, playing hit the can with their sandals, and no touching the ground tag. On Fridays students will measure their ability for success in the world by crossing small rivers first, the final exam at the end of the year would include cross the Mississippi River. “It’s not nearly as dangerous as the Mekong, but we want to emulate the hardships and plight of their parents or grandparents as closely as possible. Besides half of these pansies don’t know how to swim anyways, but we going to learn them. Oh, we’re going to learn them good!” says Khang.
In an effort to promote more constructive interests between teachers and parents, teachers will now send kids home with a note letting parents know whether or not they should discipline their child based on the performance for that week. During parent teacher conferences, parents and teachers will discuss effective methods of disciplining a child and teachers will be able to weigh in on the best tools to use for hitting kids whether it be a fly-swatter, sandals, wire hangers, or two bare knuckles.
Khang hopes that these new goals will instill the survival instincts of a refugee into her students. According to her, the program has been so far well received by the Hmong community, African-American community, and other Minority communities who all respect the stern curriculum and will soon follow with their own version. For example, the African-American charter schools will set sail for a month-long journey on a wooden ship to an unknown land. And the Hispanic charter schools are developing a curriculum that centers around scaling over or tunneling under a wall. They also have a similar swimming class as the Mekong River crossing that Khang has instituted. Ia Vang of Brooklyn Park says, “I’m really glad someone is taking a stand on this issue and doing what it takes to push our kids to the next level. It’s about time these schools stop pussy-footing around.” ■