VANG

Lore Vang: "Madison Metropolitan School District data from a few years ago showed that 93 percent of Hmong-American children were not reading at grade level and 74 percent were performing below grade level in math."

PHOTO BY MICHELLE STOCKER

For the fifth year, Cap Times reporters asked several Madisonians to share their "bright ideas" for the new year. We will publish the 2018 edition of Bright Ideas throughout the next week.

I’m one of the few Hmong police officers in Madison and I work on the Community Outreach, and Resource Education team. In that capacity, I help develop programming in middle schools and reach out to communities of color.

Hmong kids know that they’re different, but may not know why or how. Some have no grasp of the Hmong story, or what brought them to the U.S. in the first place. Their peers likely know even less.

It would be great for Hmong-American and non-Hmong youth to have the opportunity to learn about Hmong history and cultural competency in class. This would assist Hmong-American youth with their cultural and ethnic identity, ultimately providing a better vision of academic or vocational success.

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Hmong kids are often identified as Asian and stereotyped as a “model minority”: well-mannered, well-adjusted, academically strong and financially supported by their parents. The reality is Hmong-American kids are often first-generation students and may struggle with poverty or language barriers.

Madison Metropolitan School District data from a few years ago showed that 93 percent of Hmong-American children were not reading at grade level and 74 percent were performing below grade level in math.

Taking the time to teach students about Hmong history could help Hmong kids feel more secure in their identity, and help their peers have a more complete picture of the history of Wisconsin and their classmates.