Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

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By Roseanne Crawford

Just barely getting back into classrooms, students and parents have been challenged enough. The most vulnerable now are further challenged with a program the district voted in during the Covid lockdown in Zoom to launch at McKinley Elementary this fall.

Families living in the neighborhood boundary are automatically enrolled in this unless they opt-out and fill out district forms to choose another school if they want their children to be taught in English. What is proposed for Kindergarten will be 90% in Spanish instruction with only 10% in English; the following year the 1st grade will next be converted and so on until by 5th grade all instruction is taught 50% in Spanish and English.

META is a dual-language Immersion program was designed to help English Learners learn English and with the claim English Speakers will learn Spanish, not a new concept and is a spin off of the poor performing Adelante Charter School  Although they refer to this school as the “Gold Standard” their standardized testing scores doesn’t back that up with their students only at 19% proficient in English with the state average at 51% and their math at 27% proficient with the state average at 40%. They are one of the lowest performing schools in the district.

By Contrast, Franklin Elementary does things differently. With similar student demographics they completely immerse students in English with plenty of Teacher’s assistant aides that are bilingual as well as after school homework help.

Their scores scream success showing English proficiency at 57% with the state average at 57% and math over the state average at 49% with the state average of 40% according to greatschools.org ratings.

Some background

Back in 1998 California Proposition 227 was passed eliminating bilingual education in the State as the outcomes were so poor for learning. Outcomes improved however in 2016 with passage of Proposition 58 English only education was repealed and it was left to individual districts to have freedom to design their own programs. 

Locally the Cesar Chavez Carter a bilingual school was formed however their charter was denied to continue because of poor outcomes. They reorganized under a new charter Adelante Charter School established in 2000.

Latino families are the “real stakeholders” and with good reason are concerned about this, they have the most to lose and feel like they are being used. With speaking Spanish at home they need their children to be in English all day at school.  The concept is not popular with the community. Their concern is with only 10% of English instruction both in Kindergarten and 1st grade, and then only 10% each year added, the early years the most important for language development will be denied them. The English Speakers will have a great opportunity to learn Spanish, however, it will leave the Spanish speakers in an inequitable situation and behind with English.

They had initially presented this as a Concept, then a “Pilot” program, however, they are launching this school-wide as a program without any data or tracking as to outcomes.

What the McKinley Community for English immersion wants is a reasonable request. They want one Kindergarten left as a conventional kindergarten. They also want a path to stay in English immersion all the way to 5th Grade.

This is a reasonable request and it would be in the district’s best interest to work with these families and honor their needs.  Further, the funding from LCAP they are tapping into for this program specifically states it is to be used for Emergent learners, economically underprivileged, homeless and foster children and specifically not to be used for a school wide program.

Leaving an English only tract would give families choice as to what their needs are and would also serve the District to test and monitor their META Dual Language Program progress side by side.

No one should have to leave their neighborhood school to learn English.


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a-1618599051 Apr 16, 2021 11:50 AM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

You're correct unfortunately. This is another brick in the wall that'll continue to separate strong performing schools / children from low performing schools / children. Those years are lost forever and children stuck in low performing environments rarely break out of that. This sets up a lifetime of Income Discrepancy.

PitMix Apr 16, 2021 11:02 AM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

People in Europe that are fluent in 2 or 3 languages must be laughing at the US's xenophobic approach to education. There are so many things that the richest most powerful nation in the history of the world just can't do. I wonder why that is? Por que no pueden funcionar los estados unidos?

Voice of Reason Apr 16, 2021 12:29 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Just like our politicians and media, you're intentionally being divisive and inflammatory Pit. There is nothing xenophobic about our elementary schools.

sacjon Apr 16, 2021 11:02 AM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

90% Spanish instruction and 10% English for ALL Kindergartners? Is the concern that English speaking 5 year olds will forget how to speak English?

Hado_Ken_57 Apr 16, 2021 11:59 AM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Of course that isn't the concern. It's about reading and writing in English. Did you actually read the article or just latch on to the first two paragraphs?

sacjon Apr 16, 2021 01:32 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

HADO - Of course I read it, and still have the question. Calm down, no need to get in a kerfuffle. Do you truly think kids won't learn how to read and write in English if they're learning more Spanish in Kindergarten? Kids should be taught new languages at a young age when they're more receptive. How much reading and writing do you think they teach in Kindergarten anyways?

a-1618607749 Apr 16, 2021 02:15 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

SACJON I don't disagree with you, but wanted to point out that kindergarten has changed immensely over the years. Students read and write every single day.

sacjon Apr 16, 2021 02:26 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

2:15 - yes, I know they do some in Kindergarten, but they're not learning to read and write at that level such that if they learned Spanish as well, they wouldn't know how to read and write English when they're older. Further, the rest of their day at home or at day care, they will be reading and writing and speaking English. A few hours a day of Spanish at that age is not the end of the world.

Hado_Ken_57 Apr 16, 2021 04:27 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

sac i get what you are saying but its not just a few hours of spanish... its 90 percent taught in Spanish with only 10 percent English. That will seriously impact kids reading abilities. I am all for Spanish being taught at an early age... I myself had Spanish all the way through six grade... but learning how to read and write in English is important too. And what about the kids that already know Spanish? What are they gonna do during 90 percent of class time? 50 50 Spanish English would be the way to go.

a-1618596846 Apr 16, 2021 11:14 AM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Can I enroll my kid in this program? I would LOVE for them to learn Spanish at that young of an age. Unfortunately the public school system failed myself and my spouse with the embarrassing foreign language courses that never stuck.

citizenSB Apr 16, 2021 05:19 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Looks like the public school system failed you in English too.
I failed myself but the public schools failed my spouse and me.
Sorry but I couldn't help myself.

dukemunson Apr 16, 2021 12:22 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Monroe and Washington Elementary are pretty close (1.9 miles and 1.5 miles respectively). In a weird (and completely subverting the intended plan) it's actually kind of a cool idea for some. If kids that want to opt out can easily pop into those schools (which again are pretty close) then its kind of cool! We actually gave some thought to going to Adelante. The thinking was "what do kids actually really learn in K-6 grade"? It seems like most of it is just how to learn (plus the social interaction of being with kids your own age). If we kept up math at home and encouraged reading, in some ways coming out of K-6 with a foreign language is a win! Sure this isn't good for a lot of people and it being mandated for a school would be bad for a lot of people...but there is a weird path that this would actually be pretty cool for some people! (Not to mention good for the private schools...they are all doing great with attendance...seemingly each and every move they make pushes X number of people out!)

letmego Apr 16, 2021 03:45 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Everyone that I know personally who wanted to put their kids in Adelante or the Goleta program or similar programs across the country...is a native English speaking white person, who wants their kids to learn a second language.

forrealnews Apr 16, 2021 01:54 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Count on the US to refuse to be like other countries where kids are required to learn multiple languages from a young age, and then we wonder why people from other countries are more qualified and valuable in roles. Friends of mine from countries all over the world speak 3 languages and several of them speak 5 or more. It is a huge bonus in jobs. They are able to travel to so many wonderful places and know the language. The original languages of this land were not English, and the future is increasingly multicultural. In addition, when most of California was originally Spanish, and we live in a town of Spanish architecture, nearly every street name in Spanish, and a significant portion of the population is Latino, it makes 100% sense that Spanish be required basic learning.

dukemunson Apr 16, 2021 02:18 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Forreal - A second language is invaluable... but as a parent it would be a bummer to be forced into that situation. Adela the has a lot of positives... but those reading and math scores are pretty rough. Makes the comparison to your Finnish and German friends a little tenuous.

Basicinfo805 Apr 16, 2021 02:46 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

I gotta jump in on this one. Learning a second, third, etc language is great. I learned Spanish in jr. high and high school because I had a good English foundation and then was able and willing to expand on it. It has helped me a lot over the years. I love that I had the opportunity to add that skill through public schools here locally. But that's done after you learn your PRIMARY language. Kindergarten is foundational in language development. Why in the world would you want the little ones who don't speak Spanish at all in their homes, be taught 90% in a foreign language? Put yourself in that situation - you're 5 or 6 and all day you're hearing your new teacher talking to you but you have zero idea of what he or she is saying. Recipe for disaster. But a lot of us have seen this deal coming unfortunately. The SBUSD is now ALL ABOUT forcing Spanish. It's all about the bottom up style. We can't give anyone D's or F's! And also at all costs we have to our special needs kids in school even though no one else is. What next? I'll answer my own question, and take the heat - start teaching 100% in Spanish across the entire district. Forget about English altogether. It's an all Spanish-speaking town now baby.

letmego Apr 16, 2021 03:43 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

"Why in the world would you want the little ones who don't speak Spanish at all in their homes, be taught 90% in a foreign language? Put yourself in that situation - you're 5 or 6 and all day you're hearing your new teacher talking to you but you have zero idea of what he or she is saying. Recipe for disaster."

Um...but isn't that what the English Learners get at every other school?

a-1618610852 Apr 16, 2021 03:07 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

I’d want my kids to learn both languages. Not sure this system makes sense. Won’t it harm the kids who only hear Spanish at home? English is still the primary language in the US, and the language of business in many other countries. I’d want my kids to learn English as soon as possible, and also learn Spanish. Ten percent English doesn’t sound like enough for kindergarten. Kids are like sponges at that age and should be given more English so they don’t get sidelined from mainstream USA.

dukemunson Apr 16, 2021 03:16 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Therein lies the problem with this plan. It makes sense (and could be a great option) for kids who already speak English as well as speak it in the home...but for kids where Spanish is spoken in the homes it seems like it's doing them a tangible disservice. It makes it easier for the kids (and teachers) in Kindergarden...but it's just taking the path of least resistance. This is bad for the kids who most need help.

Hado_Ken_57 Apr 16, 2021 04:22 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Yeah just do like 50 50 Spanish and English and make sure the reading and writing scores stay on track and its fine. But 90 10 is way to skewed in 1 direction imo

SBLetsGetAlong Apr 16, 2021 03:20 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Why doesn’t SBUSD mirror the successful Franklin elementary school model?
Why are they mirroring the Adelante META program with only 19% proficiency in English?

I haven’t heard SBUSD ever discuss their reasoning in any of the meetings despite my asking them on their public forums.

letmego Apr 16, 2021 03:41 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Money. It took/ takes a LOT of money to pull off what Franklin did.


"The turnaround came after Killgore began using her self-described “hustler skills” to bring new programs to the school.

Rather than relying on funding from the district, Killgore has taken an entrepreneurial approach to helping her students. In the decade that she has been principal, her “business model” has helped empower the staff and teachers to create a team that has brought sweeping academic changes."

It required "hustler skills" to bring in the money to support the programs (essentially, small groups for struggling students).

bosco Apr 16, 2021 03:30 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

From a child development perspective children should be immersed in second language development as young as possible. This makes perfect sense. I'd love for my child to start Spanish at a young age. It's so easy for them at 5 and 6 years old.

lovesbalot Apr 16, 2021 04:16 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Being bilingual is certainly a good goal but when your drill down on META; you see the funding coming out of LCAP again. LCAP monies is legally intended for the most vulnerable students, english language learners, foster youth and those with socioeconomic hardship. META is using LCAP money district wide which hurts the most vulnerable students. There was a uniform complaint filed by Public Advocates for the last LCAP from 2016-2019 that Superintendent Matsuoka ignored. Please read it here: https://www.publicadvocates.org/wp-content/uploads/Public-Advocates-UCP-to-Santa-Barbara-USD-2016-08-09.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2wdB3MM4YxibPUQjavdpTBmIcTDIFUr Currently dual language immersion is not getting students to learn to read english by end of third grade the national standard and important milestone. Adelante's 4th graders only 15% are proficient. If you look at the CASP scores of our most vulnerable students many are years behind in literacy; they also have highest absentism, highest suspension rates and worst graduation rates. I am fine with students learning spanish and english. But let's be sure they learn english on time which our district continues to fail. These are the students that get pushed out of school and some go to the school to prison pipeline. If you can't read by end of third school becomes a painful struggle. Students self esteem gets lower and pretty soon there will be acting out. The system is failing these students and has been for decades. This district is in need of a FCMAT report , which is a state audit that points out strengths and weakness. The last two said that our district has a dismal record for our most vulnerable , english language learners, foster youth, socioeconomic hardship and those with learning difference. We need to change how we teach reading. It should be evidenced based not just researched based. And we need to change our cultural around literacy. Right now the district does way too little way too late. Evidenced based practice calls for automatic testing in k-3, teacher training, and using an explicit reading approach not what the district currently does. Our district offers such a mediocre approach now. Very little intensive interventions and many parents have to fight to get too little services way too late. Those that can leave the public system. So it is particularly injust to offer those with socioeconomic hardship a program that does not work well and will leave them behind like the juniors at La Cuesta where only 4% can read at grade level. No 4 year college. Most will be stuck in low paying jobs and barely get by. By mis spending LCAP our district is breaking the equity promise.

Transparent Apr 16, 2021 04:31 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Regarding Franklin's scores. Yes, they are 'better" ... but let's not do any victory dances here. Being "proficient" against these state standards is an incredibly low bar. Having half your kids miss that is really really terrible, even if that has become the "norm" for California public education.

lovesbalot Apr 16, 2021 07:18 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

Research shows that children who struggle to read in first grade are 88 percent more likely to struggle in grade four, and those who struggle in fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.

The vast majority of young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system (85 percent, according to some sources) are functionally illiterate. Data from the Prison Policy Initiative reinforces the connection between illiteracy and incarceration by indicating that imprisoned people are far more likely to struggle with basic reading, writing, and computation skills.

a-1618626793 Apr 16, 2021 07:33 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

At least since the 1990's, when immigration started bring large numbers of non English speakers into Santa Barbara Elementary School District, McKinley had an English only kindergarten through third grade. In fourth, the classes were in English with support for the students who came from the "bilingual" program (in reality Spanish). This is not a new concept.

Lorax Apr 16, 2021 08:44 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

All they have to do is copy Franklin School. It's one of the highest acheiving schools in the SBUSD.
They have the same demographics and instruction is all in English however they have heavy support with bilingual teacher"s aides and after school homework study hall.
They come in at English Proficiency at 57% with state averate at 51% and their math at 57% and is over the state average of 49% They are a succesfull bilingual school as they turn out both English and Spanish speaking children learning content in core subjects across the board .

Lorax Apr 16, 2021 08:52 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

You are correct, No it's not a new concept however they renamedit so they can get extra funding claiming its a new program. This was all rubberstamped by the school board prior to Virginia Alvaraz being elected. Glad someone is asking some questions around the budget and is looking at outcomes.
Follow the $$ one more time. They have plenty of $$ they just have to use it correctly.
The district was awarded 34 milllion dollars recently for Summer School and programs that supposidly serve the underserved. There needs to be accountability and transparency with this Board, they are out of control.

Lorax Apr 16, 2021 10:24 PM
Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path

I know someone that I has 2 nieces and a nephew that live in Paso Robles. They are all her brothers children. Two of them had full ride scholarships to Notre Dame and in three years got double majors. The third one went to a Spanish immersion school thinking it was a good idea. She still hasn’t graduated And has had struggles scholastically all her life.

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