Mahamed’s Story: Part 2 (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Date: May 27, 2011

Guest blogger:  Maryann Moll, Teacher, Ombudsman Arizona Charter East

Read Mahamed’s Story:  Part 1

Mahamed struggled with algebra and the scientific terminology of biology, with his English-Somali dictionary at his side. He had a brilliant, if not well-educated mind. Still, he wanted to give up at the difficulty of it all many times, but I wouldn’t hear of it. Some days he was angry with me for that.

In the semesters that he was with us, he studied history, grammar, writing, spelling and all other required academic courses, although it was often a struggle for him. He was rarely absent, so when one day, he arrived two hours late for his session, I asked him where he had been.

He was grinning from ear to ear and handed me a paper. It was from the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service. The paper stated that his immigration status had changed from refugee to resident alien. He would be issued his Green Card and become eligible for U.S. citizenship in five years. We all rejoiced. Finally, Mahamed would have a country to call his own.

Mahamed still had many courses to take during his final semester with us. He was soon going to be 22 years old, and would no longer be able to attend a high school. We were losing hope. In addition to completing the required courses, Mahamed faced another major obstacle. At the time, state law required that all students pass all portions of the AIMS test in order to graduate.

While we knew the Arizona legislature was in the process of reconsidering this additional requirement, we continued to work under the assumption that students would have to pass the exams, and that we would not be able to augment scores with passing course grades. Finally, the announcement came that the legislature would allow us to augment scores.

However, I forgot to tell Mohamed the good news.

While Mahamed was working at the computer one day in November, he suddenly stood up, threw his pencil down and announced that he could not go on. He said that he knew he could not pass the math and writing portion of the AIMS test.

I then realized I had forgotten to tell him about the legislature’s decision.

Read Mahamed’s Story:  Part 3


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