Garden City an example in educating a diverse population

Dec 1, 2016

Garden City was recently the subject of a University of Kansas study about the way its teachers educate a diverse student population.
Credit ALAN GOMEZ/USA TODAY

Two University of Kansas professors recently completed a study on Garden City’s ever-changing demographics and the way educators in the southwest Kansas community teach a diverse population of students.   

As KU News Service reports, Jennifer Ng, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies, and Don Stull, professor emeritus of anthropology, recently spent five months in the community, where they interviewed educators and community leaders and observed the way schools teach the city’s diverse student population.

The professors are in the process of putting a report together about the strengths and weaknesses they observed in the way the school district, college and community serves the ethnically diverse population that they are presenting to school administrators on Dec. 15 and 16.

According to KU News Service, Garden City is accustomed to change because immigrants and refugees move to the community for employment for the past 36 years, starting with an influx of Latin Americans and Vietnamese in the early 80s, when IBP opened a beef processing plant in the area.

Many of the immigrants and refugees residing in Garden City today work at the Tyson Fresh Meat Packing plant and speak over 21 languages, including Somali, Burmese and Spanish.  

While the study found that Garden City has adjusted well to the ever-changing population, it also suggested that the district not become too complacent in how it approaches students from differing backgrounds, given the fact that it has had over three decades to adapt to meet their differing learning needs.  

Overall, the study found that the school district, college and community as a whole, have followed through on a commitment to educate all students, by doing things like implementing multilingual signage and providing interpreters to parents who don’t speak English.

Stull and Ng, according to KU News, concluded that commitment to help immigrants and refugees assimilate to the town of about 30,000 is a good example for other communities to follow.