Rhonda Thurman Says Hispanic Students Who Speak Little Or No English Are Overwhelming County Schools

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2022

County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said a rising number of Hispanic students who can speak little or no English are overwhelming the Hamilton County Schools.

Ms. Thurman said, "We had about 8,000 Hispanic students last school year, and at last count the number was 8,671 this year. They arrive every day at schools like Howard in groups of five or more."

She said, "It is mind-boggling to me the burden it puts on the schools, the teachers and the taxpayers."

Ms. Thurman said, "Teachers tell me they cannot give the attention they deserve to the English-speaking students because they have to devote so much time to try to help the Hispanic students catch up.

"It's not fair to the teachers, who have become really frustrated."

Ms. Thurman said a new school aimed at immersing Hispanic students into English language learning should be a help.

Hispanic students are now the majority in eight Hamilton County Schools. These include:

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy - 175 Hispanic, 159 black, 17 white

Clifton Hills Elementary - 470 Hispanic, 165 black, 18 white, 1 American Indian

East Lake Academy - 357 Hispanic, 148 black, 23 white, 1 American Indian

East Lake Elementary - 470 Hispanic, 96 black, 18 white

East Ridge Elementary - 359 Hispanic, 297 black, 20 Asian, 268 white, 10 American Indian

East Ridge High School - 495 Hispanic, 302 black, 14 Asian, 207 white, 6 American Indian

East Ridge Middle School - 326 Hispanic, 234 black, 157 white, 6 American Indian

East Side Elementary - 413 Hispanic, 122 black, 12 white, 1 American Indian

Spring Creek Elementary - 251 Hispanic, 196 black, 21 Asian, 172 white, 3 American Indian

Howard School - 882 Hispanic, 626 black, 1 Asian, 36 white, 2 American Indian

Ms. Thurman said county school enrollment would be falling off - except for the influx of the Hispanic students.

She said there are now 1,986 students in charter schools.

There are 762 in the virtual, collegiate and STEM programs. The latter two programs are at Chattanooga State.

She said all of those students "are no longer in our facilities."


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