Karst chat with Bill Coats: Focus on the kids of migrant workers - The Packer

Karst chat with Bill Coats: Focus on the kids of migrant workers

07/08/2011 02:45:00 PM
Tom Karst

The second day of work. I finish a day of work kind of late and I’m walking out of my office which is a building we share with a charter school and a child care center. When I open the door to go outside, the first thing I hear is the voice of a little child bouncing off the walls of this building. When I go outside, here is the little girl walking across the patio with her mom and she is, at the top of her lungs, singing her ABCs. I don’t know whether her mom spoke a word of English but she was laughing at her daughter. But that little girl was letting the whole world know that she knew her ABCs. I thought, you know, that that is what this is all about.


11:20 a.m. Karst: I’m sure it is gratifying to see these kids grow up..


11:20 a.m. Coats: Last weekend one of our alumni, Charlie Brown,  was just elected the first African American statewide president of the FFA. He is an African American and his father was deported to Jamaica but he and his mom stayed in the U.S. – he is an RCMA graduate and he graduated from high school and he is going to spend the year touring Florida as the state president. He was also, last summer, elected president of Boys Nation and he got to meet President Obama.


11:21 a.m. Karst: At RCMA, how many grades do you offer?


11:22 a.m. Coats: The child care centers go up to kindergarten. The Immokalee charter school goes through sixth grade, while the one in Tampa goes through the fifth grade, although we are actively unfolding a plan to expand it to the middle school grades, so it would be pre-kindergarten through 8th grade if this plan gets approved.


11:23 a.m. Karst: Does your staff talk about issues in agriculture like immigration reform? How do you see that issue playing out and how that affect what you might do?


11:24 a.m. Coats: I’ll answer it generally and I’ll tell you another true story. Generally, part of our belief about child care is that it is really holistic. We believe that it is vitally important that we get parents involved. We worry as we get kids ready for success, that we’re Americanizing them, pulling them away from the culture of their parents, who when they work in the fields they can lead a lifestyle that is very much pure Mexican, working for Mexican crew leaders in Florida.

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