Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

How Dearborn Schools Opened Its Doors To Immigrant Students

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Image credit: Sandra Svoboda

Ali Harb of the Arab American News says the district is leading the way for accepting new demographics.

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Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Dearborn is setting a standard for how American cities can be inclusive with the growing number of immigrants, according to Ali Harb, a reporter with the Arab American News.

Dearborn, once a majority-white city, is now heavily populated with Arab Americans. Harb says the city hasn’t always had the most welcoming history, but that has changed in a huge way.


Harb writes:


About 30 years ago, Mayor Mike Guido wanted to talk about the ‘Arab problem.’ In May, an Arab woman who graduated from the Dearborn Public Schools gave the students’ commencement speech at Harvard University.

Dearborn schools have long evolved with its population, as Harb reports, and the welcoming gestures create an environment of inclusion.

Among the measures Dearborn has taken; signs in Arabic to direct traffic posted on the grounds, serving halal food, and providing homework in Arabic.

It might not be major to the wider population, but to a student who may not be able to eat every single item on the menu as his friends, it makes a massive difference psychologically,” says Harb.

To hear from Harb on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


Detroit Journalism Cooperative

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at detroitjournalism.org.

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



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