The State College district escaped the protests and unrest that many urban areas experienced in the 1970s when judges ordered busing to create more racial balance in schools.
With a rural, mostly white, population base, the district had few minority students until Penn State began attracting more international graduate students and teachers, whose children attended local schools. A February 1970 survey showed 147 foreign national students in State College schools, mostly in the 8 elementary schools. Theses students included 22 from Canada, 14 from India, 14 from the United Kingdom, 9 from Germany and 9 from Venezuela.
In 1976, growing numbers of non-English-speaking school age children resulted in the establishment of State College’s English as a Second Language program. At first, instruction was given by one volunteer. By 2001, three teachers traveled among the elementary schools, two were at the middle schools, and two were in residence at the high school. Classes were also taught to adults through the Community Education program.
All children for whom English was not their native language were given a preliminary evaluation when they entered the school district. Assignment to an ESL class was based on proficiency in speaking, reading, listening, writing and vocabulary, rather than on age.
Outside of the classroom, high school students of all nationalities could join the International Relations club, dedicated to understanding the politics and cultures of other countries.
Understanding others was also one of the goals of the Southern Student Project, which brought African-American exchange students from Tuscaloosa, ALA., and inner city Pittsburgh to State High for their junior and senior years. The project intended to vive the exchange students a better education than they might have received in their home schools and lasted about 10 years in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
Last Modified on June 25, 2011