03-31-2020  7:14 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Inslee: Washington Needs More Coronavirus Test Supplies

The governor suggested the shutdown of most businesses and extreme social distancing would likely have to be extended to fight the disease

Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Oregon

Gov. Brown praised the declaration, but says we still have significant requests pending, "first and foremost Oregon's request for more personal protective equipment from the national stockpile"

Vote by May 19: Oregon’s Primary Election Continues as Planned

Oregon’s vote-by-mail system keeps May Primary on schedule

A Black Woman Is Leading The Charge To Create A Vaccine For The Coronavirus

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and her team have begun running the first human trials of the vaccine in Seattle

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon Medicaid Program Gains Flexibility to Better Serve Low-income Oregonians During Pandemic

Nearly one in four Oregonians currently receives health coverage through OHP. ...

Washington Elementary School Offers Food-Bearing Container Gardens During Meal Distribution

Large pots with food-bearing plants will be available for families to take home on Wednesday, April 1, from Catlin Elementary in...

Waterfront Blues Festival Cancelled for 2020

Organizers say the decision to cancel the popular festival was not taken lightly ...

NAACP Calls COVID-19 Stimulus Package a Necessary Step, but Calls Upon Congress to Do More

The NAACP says in providing future relief, Congress must prioritize people first, not corporations ...

CARES Act Must Prioritize Nation’s Most Vulnerable Communities

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says the new bill puts the interests of corporations above the burdens faced by...

Magnitude 6.5 earthquake strikes in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A large earthquake struck north of Boise, Idaho, Tuesday evening, with people across a large area reporting shaking. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the magnitude 6.5 temblor struck just before 5 p.m. It was centered 73 miles (118 kilometers) northeast of Meridian,...

Oregon schools to start distance learning on April 13

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Facing an expected closure through the end of the academic year, schools across Oregon have been told to begin distance learning on April 13. Some schools are already handing out smart tablets and Wi-Fi devices to students.Gov. Kate Brown closed schools through April 28,...

The Latest: 2 Madison Square Garden boxing cards called off

The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak's affect on sports around the globe (all times EDT):10 p.m.Two boxing cards at Madison Square Garden have been called off because of the coronavirus outbreak.A few hours after announcing the fights would proceed without crowds, promoter Bob Arum said Thursday...

Former AD, All-American center Dick Tamburo dies at 90

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dick Tamburo, an athletic director at three major schools and an All-American center at Michigan State, has died. He was 90.Michigan State announced that Tamburo died Monday.A native of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Tamburo served as the athletic director at Texas...

OPINION

The ACA Has Never Been More Critical

Today I'm honoring the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law. ...

NAACP/Black Community: A Model for Resiliency

As America enters perhaps the most uncertain period in modern history, we will all be tested in new and unpredictable ways. ...

What the Government Can Do Now to Lessen the Impact of COVID-19

Dr. Roger Stark says during this pandemic the administration must give states more flexibility ...

The Homelessness Crisis – We Are Better Than This

Julianne Malveaux says this is not just about homelessness. It is about an economic crisis that has made affordable housing, jobs and economic security difficult to obtain ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Judge: Man linked to white supremacist group to stay in jail

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man linked by the FBI to a white supremacist group and arrested ahead of a gun rights rally in Virginia must remain in federal custody while he awaits trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Boardman refused to set bond for Brian Mark...

Democratic lawmakers call for racial data in virus testing

Democratic lawmakers are calling out an apparent lack of racial data that they say is needed to monitor and address disparities in the national response to the coronavirus outbreak.In a letter sent Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna...

Man, 72, dies of injuries 3 months after Hanukkah stabbings

MONSEY, N.Y. (AP) — A man who was among the five people stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City has died three months after the attack, according to an Orthodox Jewish organization and community liaison with a local police department.Josef Neumann, 72, died Sunday night,...

ENTERTAINMENT

CNN's Cuomo says he has coronavirus, has shown symptoms

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN's Chris Cuomo has tested positive for the coronavirus but promised Tuesday to stay at work and do his prime-time show from the basement of his home.Cuomo, whose brother New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has logged just as much television airtime lately with daily briefings on...

Finances hurting? Watch 'Let's Make a Deal'

NEW YORK (AP) — Instead of watching their own finances crater, shut-in television viewers tuned in to the game show “Let's Make a Deal” in record numbers last week.TV programs across the dial recorded superlatives last week with a captive audience of millions of Americans told...

'It is brutal': Hollywood's rank-and-file on the pandemic

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The red carpets are rolled up in storage, the A-listers holed up in mansions, multiplex doors are closed. For now, at least, the coronavirus has shut down much of Hollywood. And for the entertainment industry's many one-gig-at-a-time staff and freelance workers — a...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP FACT CHECK: Trump's misfires on virus death rates, tests

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a grim reality of surging coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump is making...

A guide to surviving financially as the bills come due

The coronavirus has dealt a financial blow to millions of Americans and now April's bills are coming due.The good...

Should you wear mask in public if not sick with coronavirus?

WASHINGTON (AP) — If you’re not sick with the new coronavirus, should you wear a mask in public?...

13-year-old shot dead; Kenyan police enforcing curfew blamed

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The bullet struck the 13-year-old as he stood on the balcony of his family’s...

UN chief says COVID-19 is worst crisis since World War II

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday that the world faces the most...

Dismantling democracy? Virus used as excuse to quell dissent

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Soldiers patrol the streets with their fingers on machine gun triggers. The army...

McMenamins
Rochelle Riva Bargo New America Media

Heidi Ricohermoso grew up in the shadows of Hong Kong's towering cityscape and, like the rest of her peers, often gazed upwards and dreamed of success. But getting there meant getting into college, and for Ricohermoso, the child of Filipino immigrants, that meant passing a series of state-administered exams.

"I wasn't very happy to see my HKCEE results," said Ricohermoso, referring to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, a test administered to students in the eleventh grade as a prerequisite for the last two years of secondary school (high school). Students then must pass an exit exam to graduate from high school and apply to colleges and universities.

With Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, the tests have placed renewed emphasis on Chinese language proficiency.

"I thought I had to give up on getting a college education," said Ricohermoso. That frustration eventually forced Ricohermoso and her mother to leave the country for the United States, where the soft-spoken 20-year-old is now enrolled at Portland Community College and studying to become a Certified Nurse Assistant.

"Everyone in our community should be able to share in the fruits of our economic development," said Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in June, during an inaugural address, marred by protests over the city's growing wealth gap. For Ricohermoso, such words ring hollow.

Hong Kong's Servant Class

Four years ago she was waiting tables in Hong Kong and earning less than $1000 a month for a 60-hour work week. Her dreams went no farther than the next week's wages. After leaving Hong Kong, Ricohermoso finally saw a future for herself. "I felt relieved and excited for a new life and a new beginning," she said. "There are more opportunities [for me] here in the US."

Most of her friends back home, Ricohermoso says, are still working the same service-sector jobs she left behind.

Of Hong Kong's 7 million residents, close to 400,000 are members of an ethnic minority, according to census data from 2006. Most came fleeing joblessness and other economic woes in their home countries, and were attracted by the stellar economic success of the then-British colony.

Filipinos are the city's largest minority, with a population of some 150,000. Ricohermoso's mother was among the thousands of mostly women who in the late 1980s arrived looking for jobs mostly as domestic workers or nannies in the homes of Chinese families, at a time when more Chinese women were joining the labor force. More than two decades later, the children of these early migrants have come of age, reared in a school system that many Filipino residents say is set up for them to fail.

Language Barriers

Ricohermoso attended a Canadian kindergarten and, after that, spent two years at a private international school where English was the main language of instruction. At home she spoke Tagalog with her mother and biological father. (He passed away when Ricohermoso was 10, and her mother is now remarried to a U.S. citizen).

Of Hong Kong's 524 secondary schools – the rough equivalent of junior high in the United States – only five are for students from non-Chinese speaking households. The tuition at one of these private schools typically runs around HK$80,000 (US$10,000) per year, beyond what most immigrant families can afford.

By the time Ricohermoso was ready to enter the third grade, her mother moved her to a local Chinese school, hoping it would help prepare her for government-aided secondary school, where Cantonese is the main language of instruction.

"I was struggling with tests and exams because all the subjects were (taught) in Chinese…" recalled Ricohermoso. "As a non-Chinese, being in a Chinese school for the first time was very difficult for me."

Kelley Loper, an assistant professor at Hong Kong University's Faculty of Law and who has written extensively on the struggles of the city's ethnic minorities, says that there is little data on how language barriers have helped or hindered non-Chinese students.

According to Loper, the Hong Kong government is required to ensure equality of education, but officials are not meeting these obligations.

"Language is the key challenge and obstacle facing ethnic minority students when attempting to access education on an equal basis with their Chinese counterparts," said Loper.

Passing both state-administered exams was the ticket to college entry, but non-Chinese students still face barriers beyond that.

Neither test requires Chinese, though roughly 80 percent of universities in Hong Kong require prospective students to submit Chinese language test scores during the admission process. It is one reason why minority attendance among Hong Kong's universities is an abysmal 6.7 percent.

Ticket to Higher Ed.

Early on, many non-Chinese students encounter a school system that tracks them into lower-ranking schools.

Margaret Justine Nicolas, a 22-year-old Filipino student, now attends Hong Kong Polytechnic University, but the road to success was not easy.

After the sixth grade, she, like Ricohermoso, was assigned to a third-tier middle school, called a "Band 3" school -- the lowest performing of Hong Kong's three-tier ranking system, where a majority of students are non-Chinese. Unlike Ricohermoso, she decided to challenge the appointment, applying instead to a top-tier school.

"When the interview [the top-tier school] started, the first few minutes were conducted in English, then they switched to Cantonese," said Nicolas. "They asked five questions – I could answer the first three." As soon as it became apparent that her Cantonese was wanting, Nicolas said, the interview ended.

Nicolas eventually ended up enrolling at a third-tier school with a 90 percent ethnic minority student body.

After high school, Nicholas passed her high school exit and college entrance exam, but did not score high enough to gain access to top universities. She credits a high school teacher for helping to put her on the path to enroll in a college. The teacher encouraged her to apply for a newly-launched community college transfer program tied to Hong Kong Polytechnic.

In 2010, Nicolas transferred to Hong Kong Polytechnic, and is now a few months shy of earning her degree in English for Business Professional Communication.

"I never thought it would be possible," she said, adding she now plans to pursue a Master's in English Language Arts. Still she counts herself one of the lucky ones.

"I don't think that much effort is being placed on keeping non-Chinese students in Hong Kong," said Nicolas. "Schools are just letting them go, seeing as they normally leave Hong Kong or start working."

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