Op-Ed: New SBUSD Program is the Wrong Path
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.
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 Outcomes improved however in 2016 with passage of Proposition 58 English only education was repealed and it was left to individual districts to have freedom to design their own programs.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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