Credit: ACLU of Southern California

Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, says LA Unified should be spending more on high needs children

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has found an ally in the U.S. Department of Justice for its lawsuit charging that the state abdicated its obligation to ensure all students classified as English learners get extra instructional services to become fluent in English. The lawsuit, filed in April 2013, is set for a one-day trial next week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The state Department of Education and the State Board of Education “have the duty, the data and the tools” to meet their responsibility under federal law, Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote in a brief for the case filed last week. “California’s (English learner) students cannot afford to wait any longer.”

The ACLU claims the state has done nothing to force school districts to provide appropriate services for the approximately 20,000 English learners who, according to a 2010-11 survey of school districts, are receiving no services. Those services include  materials in the student’s primary language, parallel instruction for parts of the day taught by bilingual teachers, or a specialized teaching approach called Specially Designed Academic Instruction In English, used for teaching academic content in science or social studies.

The 20,000 students comprise less than 2 percent of the state’s 1.4 million English learners, but those numbers are self-reported by districts and likely represent “the tip of the iceberg,”  ACLU Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said.

The ACLU says the state is violating the federal Equal Education Opportunities Act, which requires the state to meet the language needs of all English learners, as well as the state Constitutional guarantee that all students are equally entitled to an opportunity for an education. The state education department and the state board “have washed their hands of ensuring district compliance, even though the students who have been denied service are disproportionately ethnic minorities and many from low income families lacking the resources and opportunities to otherwise become fluent” in English, the suit says.

The 20,000 students comprise less than 2 percent of the state’s 1.4 million English learners, but those numbers are self-reported by districts and likely represent “the tip of the iceberg” of students not getting help, ACLU Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said.

The 2011 survey found that the students were in about a quarter of the state’s 1,000 districts. The biggest violators among those districtsincluded Salinas Union High School District (43 percent of 3,784 English learners); Grossmont Union High School District in San Diego County (41 percent of 3,368 English learners) and William S. Hart Union High School District (54 percent of 2,118 English learners) in Los Angeles County.

The state’s initial response was that more than 98 percent of students were getting services; parents of the remaining students should file complaints with their districts and not with the state. The Department of Education subsequently asked the districts to reexamine the information in the surveys they provided. Of the 40 percent of districts that responded, some said that some of the students in fact had received specialized services and that other students were taught by teachers who were certified to teach English learners. The Department of Justice brief responded that federal law requires districts to provide services in addition to placing a certified teacher  in the classroom. The brief said that the state did nothing further to force districts to provide help and didn’t follow up with the 60 percent of districts that didn’t respond to the request for more information.

In a statement issued last week, state Department of Education spokeswoman Pam Slater said the state disagrees with the assertions in the lawsuit and the brief by the federal Department of Justice. “Once the (Department of Justice) takes the time to fully review the extensive documentation submitted by the (California Department of Education) over the past seven months, it will realize that the State takes seriously its obligation to monitor and ensure the provision of services to all English Learner Students,” she wrote.

The federal government funds services for English learners through Title III – about $105 per student. The state audits a small percentage of districts annually, which it says meets its obligation to monitor federal funding – a position that the Department of Justice and the ACLU dispute.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit months before the Legislature passed the Local Control Funding Formula, which increased existing state funding for low-income and English learner students to about $1,500 per student next year (20 percent above the base funding per student) plus extra dollars when low-income students and English learners are heavily concentrated in a district. The new funding formula also shifts financial control from the state to local districts, which are required to complete an extensive three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan. The LCAPs must detail what districts will do to improve services for low-income and English-learner students and how they will spend the extra money those students generate under the new system.

Districts approved their first LCAPs last month, so it is too soon to determine if the process will result in more and better services for all English learners. However, Rosenbaum said that the shift from state to local control and the adoption of a new funding system does not relieve the state of its responsibilities under the state Constitution.

The ACLU made a similar argument in another lawsuit against the state that it and the nonprofit law firm Public Counsel filed in late May on behalf of students in seven high-poverty, low-performing elementary, middle and high schools. In that case, the ACLU alleged that the state did nothing to fix chronic problems that denied students sufficient learning time. The problems included a heavy reliance on substitute teachers, course misassignments and weeks-long delays in class scheduling, a shortage of counselors and insufficient college-credit courses. Students who for years suffered the consequences were assigned to remedial classes, falling further behind, the lawsuit said.

The state board and the California Department of Education have not formally responded yet to the lawsuit.


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  1. Doctor J 2 years ago2 years ago

    In Mt. Diablo USD, The 3/11/13 Board approved Master Plan for EL does not match with the announced Bancroft experiment to begin in less than a month without the hired teachers to support it -- see EdJoin. In fact in the June 14 ELL Newsletter, ELL Director Jeanne Duarte admits to the large number of Long Term English Learners of 5 years or more whose support is only instructional assistants not services, supporting … Read More

    In Mt. Diablo USD, The 3/11/13 Board approved Master Plan for EL does not match with the announced Bancroft experiment to begin in less than a month without the hired teachers to support it — see EdJoin. In fact in the June 14 ELL Newsletter, ELL Director Jeanne Duarte admits to the large number of Long Term English Learners of 5 years or more whose support is only instructional assistants not services, supporting the concept of the Lawsuit backed by the Feds against the CDE. “In our district, we have a large number of students who are considered Long Term English Learners, or LTEL’s. These are students who have been in the country for 5 or more years and who have not yet been reclassified as Fluent English Proficient. Support in the classrooms via our EL Coach/Specialists has been available in the past two years, in order to model and reinforce strategies to best meet these students’ needs.” As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s it working for ya?” Apparently not very well. the Bancroft experiment doesn’t seem compatible with the Board approved Master plan.
    See June 14 announcement: http://www.moused.org/Departme
    Board Approved Master Plan revisions: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/att

  2. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Ouch. Floyd’s large public school family, neighbors of mine , is Central American Hispanic with the exception of the adopted African American daughter. Floyd doesn’t qualify as the bigot you want to conveniently make him out to be. I am familiar with this kind of programmed and thoughtless response by you. One cannot raise the issue of the effects of illegal immigration on California education without being called a bigot. Yawn.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      Yawn? Your neighbor says outright that we can't afford to educate all the kids in this country/state so we should exclude the ones whose parents are over-represented in prisons and welfare rolls and all you can do is yawn? His comment wasn't only about illegal immigration. As many as three quarters of english learners are American citizens. And many more who'd 'qualify' under his statement are even native english speakers. What's it going to take … Read More

      Yawn? Your neighbor says outright that we can’t afford to educate all the kids in this country/state so we should exclude the ones whose parents are over-represented in prisons and welfare rolls and all you can do is yawn? His comment wasn’t only about illegal immigration. As many as three quarters of english learners are American citizens. And many more who’d ‘qualify’ under his statement are even native english speakers. What’s it going to take for people to realize we have an equal protection clause nowadays? Raising issues related to immigration (legal or otherwise) is very different than saying only some kids are worth educating (and basing that determination on how our bigoted society classifies it’s members).

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        You are seeing red and filling in blanks, Navigio. It isn't cool to call people out as bigots just for wanting an effective use of education dollars. I don't want to speak too much on Floyd's behalf but I will tell you this: He did not say outright or otherwise that some people don't deserve a public education. I don't agree with Floyd on some things and do agree on some, but I will … Read More

        You are seeing red and filling in blanks, Navigio. It isn’t cool to call people out as bigots just for wanting an effective use of education dollars. I don’t want to speak too much on Floyd’s behalf but I will tell you this: He did not say outright or otherwise that some people don’t deserve a public education. I don’t agree with Floyd on some things and do agree on some, but I will say he’s a tireless advocate for public education for all and is especially concerned with the low levels of proficiency among some demographic groups. What he’s referring to are compensatory education programs that have yielded rather poor results, not the right to public education itself. Such programs grew larger and larger over decades and the results got worse and worse. I think it reasonable to expect results and accountability otherwisw you are not serving the students only the special interests. I just had to laugh because this guy is anything but the bigot you imagine him to be.

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          navigio does not need me to defend him, but he never called you a bigot. He did state that our society is bigoted in the way it slices and dices the population. FWIW, you, Don, are the one who is describing himself as a bigot and filling in the blanks while seeing red. BTW, compensatory education programs, in my experience with LAUSD, are not what they should be since those funds are not spent on extra … Read More

          navigio does not need me to defend him, but he never called you a bigot. He did state that our society is bigoted in the way it slices and dices the population.

          FWIW, you, Don, are the one who is describing himself as a bigot and filling in the blanks while seeing red.

          BTW, compensatory education programs, in my experience with LAUSD, are not what they should be since those funds are not spent on extra services for students. They are used to supplant the school budget rather than supplement it. It is a notorious fact that schools without Title I cannot truly afford copiers and/or nurses because the school budgets have been whittled down to the minimum required by the Ed Code, contractual obligations, and bare-bones staffing (one janitor for an entire elementary, for example). To state that these programs have not been successful is not the students’ fault.

          Does the same happen elsewhere? I don’t have concrete evidence, but I would not be surprised.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Thanks for the free counseling. I never knew I was a bigot

          • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Maybe we should have self-control and go 1% lower on across the board raises just once, and if you add all that up you’ll never be short on copiers, paper, or minor expenses again, school supplies for poor kids. Many unions are now fighting for maximum raises now. Cut it by 1% so we never hear about copiers and binders again. It’ll still be faster than inflation.

  3. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    It is laughable that the Feds who are largely responsible for the massive influx of illegal aliens want to hold the State of California responsible for teaching them English (which is the right thing to do though we can't afford it and are neglecting citizen students) and feel that their measly $105 per student gives them some moral authority to be part of the suit. It is really pathetic how low the DOJ has sunk. … Read More

    It is laughable that the Feds who are largely responsible for the massive influx of illegal aliens want to hold the State of California responsible for teaching them English (which is the right thing to do though we can’t afford it and are neglecting citizen students) and feel that their measly $105 per student gives them some moral authority to be part of the suit. It is really pathetic how low the DOJ has sunk.

    Secondly, the issue of bilingual education and 227 is a separate topic not to be confused with this suit.

    Why is it OK for my high achieving son to sit in a classroom of 40 while most non English speakers in this district have 15 students per class. Why doesn’t the ACLU consider that inequity of educational opportunity? That would be because the ACLU and the DOJ don’t care about equality issues unless they are also racial issues.

    I mentioned that I support educating all simple because I would never hold children responsible for their residency status, but let’s face it, California cannot have high quality schools, low class sizes and supports for all kinds of compensatory education programs when it is supporting massive social programs that are in large part the result of so much unlawful immigration.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      In response to your third paragraph the reason is that equality is measured by outcomes. Until they are equal, policy will continue to try to focus on shifting resources toward those who need it most and those who don’t need it most will continue to fight that. Funny how ‘justice’ is so subjective.

    • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

      Sigh. For years I have tried to shy away from answering reckless charges that "those illegals have better services than our kids." But your note takes the cake because you make it sound as if every illegal alien child (no human being is illegal) is getting services the residents are not getting. The fact is that LAUSD has a large number of undocumented students who are NOT getting services and are NOT sitting in classrooms … Read More

      Sigh. For years I have tried to shy away from answering reckless charges that “those illegals have better services than our kids.” But your note takes the cake because you make it sound as if every illegal alien child (no human being is illegal) is getting services the residents are not getting.

      The fact is that LAUSD has a large number of undocumented students who are NOT getting services and are NOT sitting in classrooms with a 15-1 ratio.

      The total number of English learners at LAUSD is 179,322 in 2013-14, down from a high of 326,893 in 2004 (see this DataQuest page for that). 93.29% of these 179,322 children are Spanish-speakers, with nearly half (89,032) of them in K-3 (see this page for those numbers). Total K-3 enrollment is 212,936; thus roughly 41% of students in these grades are English learners. I doubt very much these students are sitting in classes where the average number of kids is 15. That may be happening in SFUSD but to write as if this is the norm across the state is, well, fear-mongering.

      LAUSD is keeping the class size in these grades at or below 24 not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because those are the conditions to receive an extra 10.4% in base LCFF funding. Yet, if these students were receiving extra services or if the classroom sizes were smaller, then this would be reflected in an increase in elementary school budgets. Examination of these budgets show that they are in fact decreasing.

      So, no, I don’t think that there is any evidence to support the idea that the district serving more than 10% of English learners in the state (there are 1,413,549 of them) is diverting more resources to these students. This is despite the logical reasons cited by navigio why such diversion should indeed be taking place.

      As for what happens in the high schools, there is ample evidence that all high schools in LAUSD have average class sizes of 42 or more in all core areas. In fact, that is what is called in their staffing ratios guidelines. Maybe the classes in high schools are smaller where English learners are getting language lessons, but once they step into math, history, etc., these students are packed like sardines just like everybody else.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        I made no reference to 15 being the norm across the state. I am using my district, SFUSD, to which I referred by name, though you imply I meant something else simply to discredit my point. That's not good behavior in a debate or in an open discussion. Why?Simply because I raise the point of view that is rarely raised on the forum that immigration issues exact a severe price on education in California, … Read More

        I made no reference to 15 being the norm across the state. I am using my district, SFUSD, to which I referred by name, though you imply I meant something else simply to discredit my point. That’s not good behavior in a debate or in an open discussion. Why?Simply because I raise the point of view that is rarely raised on the forum that immigration issues exact a severe price on education in California, a view you obviously don’t agree with.

        So I will try to write very clearly. Where do guys get the idea that equality is measured by outcomes? I am not aware that the CA Constitution referred to educational equality of outcome. But I could be wrong.

        In SFUSD, the urban district with the largest achievement gap, we have lower class sizes in the so-called underserved schools. Maybe we should have 5 in a class. Would that provide educational equality or just bankruptcy?

        • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          It would be worth it if we saw decent achievement from these immigrants and resulting low levels of welfare and imprisonment and crime later, but we don’t. We spend a lot of money for nothing. Don has a good point. We all sacrifice for it, but we don’t get the results we pay for in terms of grades, test scores, etc.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Well,well. Give them enough time and they finally say what they really think. But you left out native African-Americans and Latinos from the groups you’d like to exclude from public education this time.
            And where did everybody get the idea that because you come from a household with parents who don’t speak English that you’re automatically not a citizen?

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          Factually, you don't refer to your district by name in this post. Factually, I did not call you a bigot. I charged you with fear-mongering. Let's try to look at the facts about your district, SFUSD. You are asking that English Learners be packed 40 to a classroom just like your child and almost every single other high school student in California. (and it is the CDE's fault for allowing this). You state that these students are … Read More

          Factually, you don’t refer to your district by name in this post.

          Factually, I did not call you a bigot. I charged you with fear-mongering.

          Let’s try to look at the facts about your district, SFUSD.

          You are asking that English Learners be packed 40 to a classroom just like your child and almost every single other high school student in California. (and it is the CDE’s fault for allowing this). You state that these students are not learning English and they are costing us more money because they are illegal.

          According to DataQuest, 45.37% of English Learners at SFUSD speak Spanish and 31.9% speak Cantonese. Perhaps you should be more precise about which ones you consider to be in the US illegally. All of them? The Cantonese? Or just the Spanish speakers? Or just those of a particular region? How about a particular country?

          Examination of the by-school enrollment of English Learners shows that only Galileo, Marshall, Mission, International and Washington could do the 40/classroom and maybe not even close. Looking at the total enrollment of these schools indicates that International is mostly English Learners, with Washington having the lowest ratio of the rest.

          The school with the highest enrollment (and best reputation, too), Lowell High, has 47 English Learner students out of a total enrollment of 2,696. There’s only 6 in 12th grade, 8 in 11th, 19 in 10th, and 14 in 9th. If your child is in this school, how could you expect the school to cram 40 students in the classes for English Learners when there aren’t enough of them?

          The other two big schools (by enrollment), Lincoln and Galileo, can barely make up two 40-students classrooms out of their English Learner populations. Yet, these students are only one-fifth of the enrollment. According to DataQuest, Lincoln has 95.5 teachers serving 1,958 students, 347 of which are English Learners.

          To claim that English Learners have classes where the ratio is 15-to-1 and imply this is the case across all classes, not just English, and then add that these kids are all illegal is fear-mongering because the facts are just not there.

          You have turned a personal and narrow experience into a public and general statement. I do not know if you, Don, are a bigot. But I can certainly see where your own case makes you extrapolate to the generalities.

          BTW, for the record, I don’t believe in the outcomes bandied about because most of them are simply flawed measurements, in my opinion. Thus, I very deliberately do not include them in any of my comments unless it is to compare and contrast.

          Also, if you really want to talk about equality vs bankruptcy, take a look at how we handle Special Education. Advocates demand, rightfully so, services and districts reluctantly provide them but at the expense of the rest of the students whose parents, by Congressional design, have no legal leg to stand on. Of course, all the problems we are talking about could be solved with money nobody is willing to pay.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            The ELL populations in high school are primarily newcomer in nature. The issue in SFUSD is focused on the Superintendent Zone schools which are treated as special zones and given carte blanche while the rest are starved out.. These schools run below 15 per class on average and include only 2 high schools out of 16 schools. SFUSD is funneling money through its weighted student formula, TIIBG, QEIA, LCFF S and C grants, SIG and … Read More

            The ELL populations in high school are primarily newcomer in nature. The issue in SFUSD is focused on the Superintendent Zone schools which are treated as special zones and given carte blanche while the rest are starved out.. These schools run below 15 per class on average and include only 2 high schools out of 16 schools. SFUSD is funneling money through its weighted student formula, TIIBG, QEIA, LCFF S and C grants, SIG and other streams to create a very disproportionate site funding scheme that redefines what it means to have any kind of per pupil base funding level. The best schools are stripped of basic resources and the highly improperly termed “underserved schools” are anything but. These schools have redundant services while the rest are treated with financial contempt because they are over API 800, historically. Low performing students at higher performing schools are overlooked to this dynamic which is designed to provide SFUSD with a showpiece of how to deal with inner city school. Yet, Superintendent Zone school performance is anemic with only 3 notable exceptions. And in the meantime, SFUSD has the lowest public school enrollment of any city. The only middle class people who send their kids to public school here are the ones that can’t swing private. This is due to two factors – the ridiculous student assignment system and the way the district unfairly treats the average to high performing student.

            I referred to “this district” which you yourself acknowledged to be SFUSD so stop playing games.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            (oops, ran out of "reply" thingies.) I guess, Don, I have to parse your language yet again (and you are welcome if it helps you to know yourself). Your statement was: "Why is it OK for my high achieving son to sit in a classroom of 40 while most non English speakers in this district have 15 students per class" which you then followed with "California cannot have high quality schools, low class sizes and supports … Read More

            (oops, ran out of “reply” thingies.)

            I guess, Don, I have to parse your language yet again (and you are welcome if it helps you to know yourself).

            Your statement was: “Why is it OK for my high achieving son to sit in a classroom of 40 while most non English speakers in this district have 15 students per class” which you then followed with “California cannot have high quality schools, low class sizes and supports for all kinds of compensatory education programs when it is supporting massive social programs that are in large part the result of so much unlawful immigration.”

            That says to me that you consider the problems of your district to be replicated across the state. Given that, you are the one playing games, not me.

            In my response, I kept my remarks to LAUSD as I am not familiar with SFUSD. In that context, your remark about California is simply not applicable and borders on fear-mongering. You interpreted that as being called a bigot. That’s on you, not on me.

            The data on SFUSD indicates that English learners (ELs) at Lowell cannot possibly be required to be in a 40-student classroom. Now you state that what you really meant was that Superintendent Zone schools are country-clubs in comparison to your high achieving son’s school.

            According to href=http://www.sfusd.edu/en/about-sfusd/district-wide-plans/superintendents-zone-school-improvement-grants.html, there are three high schools, not two, in the Zone. Together, their ELs number 676 out of 1,901 total enrollment for 2013-14. That’s roughly 36%. Hence, it can be argued that the redundant services you refer to are those designated to ameliorate the effects of poverty, rather than EL-centric services.

            Since I have no access to the budgets of these schools, I can’t comment on whether or not their budgets are excessively luxurious. But I can access their numbers on DataQuest. From that, Lowell’s pupil to teacher ratio is 21.9 with average class size of 29.9. In contrast, Mission’s numbers are 13.5 and 21.9, respectively. Taking your statement of 40/class at face value, then I’d have to inflate Mission’s 21.9 by the same ratio, and the average class size there is 29.3 students. That’s not your 15 students/class.

            Tell me, Don, where are your numbers coming from?

            BTW, the official student teacher ratio for LAUSD high schools is 42.5 to 1. It gets reduced to 34 to 1 for “four academic classes in Grades 9 and 10 only … for schools identified as Predominantly Latino, Black, Asian and Other Non-Anglo.” It goes back up to 42.5 in all other classes and for grades 11 and 12. This is not because they are predominantly ELs. It is because that’s what the state funds, regardless of student SES. The Superintendent Zone is the proverbial finger on the dike. You got a problem with funding, take it up to Sacramento. Or run for the School Board. Oh, wait, that’s out of the question because of oppo research…

  4. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    It is my understanding (no, I am not going to tell you who told me, but the info is legit and is from a primary source) that these students are supposed to get, under the law, services that will lead to them learning English better than if they are on a purely sink-or-swim program, which is what the most egregious cases appear to be. The ACLU was told about it by some concerned citizen, investigated, … Read More

    It is my understanding (no, I am not going to tell you who told me, but the info is legit and is from a primary source) that these students are supposed to get, under the law, services that will lead to them learning English better than if they are on a purely sink-or-swim program, which is what the most egregious cases appear to be.

    The ACLU was told about it by some concerned citizen, investigated, and arranged to discuss it with California officials, presumably at a high enough level. The ACLU was told that California was not required, under California law, to ensure that these services were provided. So sue us.

    The ACLU then did just that: filed this lawsuit.

    However, it is clear that in the meantime the ACLU also got the feds interested on this because the feds conducted an audit on the use of Title III funds in California by focusing on seven districts. LAUSD and SFUSD were in the selected list. There is a document out there chronicling the results. (I believe John wrote an article on this and made Torlakson’s response to the audit available; the response included at least part of the feds’ audit report.) Undoubtedly because of this audit, LAUSD instructed all schools to stop using Title I funds for supplies. Yes, you read that right: Title I. Why? I believe it is because the same spending practices they were flagged for in the audit also were in effect with Title I.

    So there is more here than meets the eye. No, I am not suggesting that John has not done a good job in this article. It is simply a matter of information flow. He cannot possibly have everything nor cover everything. Besides, to do a really deep exposé would require more resources than he has. No doubt he would love to do that, but, as he once told me, he is flying solo… Just sayin’…

    And, yes, it is all a question about money. When there is enough money to fund regular programs, no one complains much about spending some on bilingual education. Unless, of course, you are a nativist who believes that children in this country should speak only English in schools. Or else. (Quick European joke: what do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual. Two languages? Bilingual. One language? American.)

    Last shot: the same source also mentioned that Special Ed might be next. if that happens, pass the popcorn.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      I thought the state wants lawsuits as the mechanism for holding people accountable. Special education should be suing. Maybe then will ca voters finally find out what’s really going on there. Pass not only the popcorn but the donation basket..

  5. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    I should have added that I doubt surveys provide much in the way of evidence. If you want to know whether the service is being provided at a district get the public records to determine how many students are identified, what services are provided and how much is spent. Of course that is a massive undertaking and claiming that a survey provides the smoking gun is much easier.

  6. Miles 2 years ago2 years ago

    The ACLU doesn’t understand that the problem is not the school system but the problems of poverty, gangs, violence, broken homes and numerous other issues that make it difficult for inner-city students to learn. Stop blaming the state and its schools. Start looking to solve the social problems that make it difficult for these students to learn.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      I know where you are going with that, Miles, and you are right on point. However, CA has had school funding per child that has been under the national average since 1985 and is now near the very bottom nationally as we write. That is a disgrace. Someone should be had accountable for such a "low bar" (in the lingua Franca of the times). The "state" is in charge of that and is held hostage … Read More

      I know where you are going with that, Miles, and you are right on point. However, CA has had school funding per child that has been under the national average since 1985 and is now near the very bottom nationally as we write. That is a disgrace. Someone should be had accountable for such a “low bar” (in the lingua Franca of the times). The “state” is in charge of that and is held hostage by an electorate that famously demands high levels of service coupled to taxes as low as inhumanely possible. The fact that in many/most elections in the state the electorate is “old and white,” while the majority of school children are young and people-of-color contribute to that. Perhaps that is changing.

      The low funding of the schools in this state is “the civil rights issue of our times.” We can throw school and economic segregation into the mix too. And while I’m at it, lets mention the other “civil rights issue of our times,” the fact that CA has close to the highest level of child poverty in the nation and this nation is among the worst in the industrialized world for child poverty rates.

      There are lots of significant civil rights issues to be looked at, lots of “standards” not being met, and lots of people with considerably more power than classroom teachers who endlessly dodge any accountability. The ACLU and “advocates” should step up and confront those issues and those people. This lawsuit, and other lawsuits (!?), don’t do any of that.

  7. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Does this suit allege that EIA-LEP funding is not used for its targeted students? This seems a bit vague as stated. As far as lack of compliance, there's more than enough of that to go around, not just with the use of LEP monies with all programs. I tried for years to get SFUSD to stop using LEP money to backfill the deficits. The district and state showed no interest in the loss of services … Read More

    Does this suit allege that EIA-LEP funding is not used for its targeted students? This seems a bit vague as stated.

    As far as lack of compliance, there’s more than enough of that to go around, not just with the use of LEP monies with all programs.

    I tried for years to get SFUSD to stop using LEP money to backfill the deficits. The district and state showed no interest in the loss of services for LE students and the union was more than happy to have LEP money used for class size reduction.

  8. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    There is a considerable research base showing that bilingual education, as "banned' by Prop 227, is of considerable benefit to students learning a second language. As linguists suggest that it takes from 5 to 7 years for students (if they are working at it) to acquire Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency--known as CALPS in the ed game. This means older students don't have to sit around on their hands in content classes--science, history, etc.,--while they master … Read More

    There is a considerable research base showing that bilingual education, as “banned’ by Prop 227, is of considerable benefit to students learning a second language. As linguists suggest that it takes from 5 to 7 years for students (if they are working at it) to acquire Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency–known as CALPS in the ed game. This means older students don’t have to sit around on their hands in content classes–science, history, etc.,–while they master the new language, and they can proceed to learn science and history, etc., in a language they understand. For younger students, it is always a benefit to master their heritage (L1) language at an academic level before trying to master the new (L2) language. It is relatively easy to be fooled by kid’s fluency levels as students of all ages can pick up “playground” level fluency in L2–known as BICS, or Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills–“easily” and fairly quickly.

    Someone suggested that Prop 227 was other than damaging to second language acquisition (not to mention nativistic) because of “test scores.” I’m working from memory here, but the memory is from someone who was actually in a classroom dealing with it, but Prop 227 was passed around 1998 (yet another “genius” product of some Silicon Valley type I believe) and CA was in the midst of transitioning from the SAT 9 based testing program to the CST based one. So, without a base level of scores available, I don’t know how it’s possible to accurately gauge what was going on with test scores. There didn’t seem to be any appreciable gain in CA’s NAEP scores as a check against the state’s testing program so it seems like that, over time, we were seeing the state’s teachers and students “acclimatizing” themselves to CA’s tests and standards. (Tests and standards at some billion$ in cost we are now abandoning to embrace yet another set of tests and standards to “revolutionize education as we know it.”) BTW, the Leg Analyst looked at state NAEP scores in the 1990s and found CA’s low scores due to aggregating high suburban scores with scores for poor and ELL kids.

    Prop 227 was always something of a red herring because there were never that many certified bilingual teachers in the first place. And now, should the state decide to move in a more constructive direction, we have lost years of possible forward motion.

    Over time many new teachers now have a second language, newly credentialed teachers get the training as a part of their program, and older teachers have CLAD or SDAIE training.

    As to issues with materials and personnel: all (or almost all) students in CA schools are subjected to these shortages. There are consequences to being in the bottom tier of states in funding per child for decades. It’s time for the ACLU, as well as other “advocates” to stop the heroic posing, photo ops (see above), and windmill tilting and dig into real problems to help the state’s students and support their teachers.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

      Stay tuned. My colleague, Lillian Mongeau, will be writing soon about the bill before the Legislature to modify Prop. 227. If the bill passes, the proposal would go before voters in 2016.

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Thanks, John. Will do.

        • Doug Lasken 2 years ago2 years ago

          Thank you John, I will stay tuned as well. I would like to inform Mr. Ravani that I was indeed an LAUSD 2nd grade teacher in the years leading up to Prop. 227, and I'm surprised I would have to remind Mr. Ravani that LA's Bilingual Master Plan prohibited any academic English instruction whatsoever for any kid designated English language learner. All textbooks and instruction were in Spanish. The 30 minute ESL was forbidden … Read More

          Thank you John, I will stay tuned as well.
          I would like to inform Mr. Ravani that I was indeed an LAUSD 2nd grade teacher in the years leading up to Prop. 227, and I’m surprised I would have to remind Mr. Ravani that LA’s Bilingual Master Plan prohibited any academic English instruction whatsoever for any kid designated English language learner. All textbooks and instruction were in Spanish. The 30 minute ESL was forbidden by the master plan to involve any academic English- no phonics, no grammar, no spelling- strictly “conversational.” This was the abuse that 227 corrected; it did not eliminate bilingualism- quite the reverse. LAUSD never had bilingual education- and that was the norm in Californa. Mr. Ravani needs to ‘fess up.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            The problem with Mr. Lasken's recollection is that it was his own experience. Contrary to Mr. Lasken's experience, I do have first-hand proof of LAUSD did have bilingual education in at least one school. The day after 227 passed, LAUSD instructed teachers to remove all traces of any language other than English from classrooms. Posted in non-English languages were removed. All materials, including brand new books, were dumped. Parents who wanted bilingual education were threatened … Read More

            The problem with Mr. Lasken’s recollection is that it was his own experience. Contrary to Mr. Lasken’s experience, I do have first-hand proof of LAUSD did have bilingual education in at least one school.

            The day after 227 passed, LAUSD instructed teachers to remove all traces of any language other than English from classrooms. Posted in non-English languages were removed. All materials, including brand new books, were dumped. Parents who wanted bilingual education were threatened with busing their primary-grade children to schools that would offer bilingual classes, never mind that no school did so. Teachers were instructed to utter no word in a “foreign” language. Etc. In short, the LAUSD administration threw the baby with the bathwater.

            Yes, it could be claimed that LAUSD never did implement bilingual education across the District in a proper manner. But that is true of any program anyway as all of them depend on the school principal ensuring that programs are run well and that staff is appropriately trained (Common Core, anyone?).

            The fact is that Prop 227 backers, including Mr. Lasken, promised that there would be no need for bilingual education within ten years of its passing. It’s been more than 15 and where are we now?

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Actually, that was my point. There was not an extensive bilingual education program in CA prior to Prop 227, and there should have been. That's why Prop 227 was a "red herring." As to what appropriate reading instruction should/should-not be, as a credentialed Reading Specialist I could go into detail. But, I'll resist the temptation (for now). But briefly, as to "no academic English- no phonics, no grammar, no spelling- strictly 'conversational'" Well, under the … Read More

            Actually, that was my point. There was not an extensive bilingual education program in CA prior to Prop 227, and there should have been. That’s why Prop 227 was a “red herring.”

            As to what appropriate reading instruction should/should-not be, as a credentialed Reading Specialist I could go into detail. But, I’ll resist the temptation (for now). But briefly, as to “no academic English- no phonics, no grammar, no spelling- strictly ‘conversational'” Well, under the corrupt Reading First Initiative and the reading programs adopted by the state (and LAUSD in particular) the kids got just what you propose relentlessly for a decade. Needless to say, there is no indication reading improved. Time to move on.

            Also, there is a tendency to look at the educational world through the lens of what is happening in LAUSD or SFUSD as if those were the outer limits of the universe. They are not.

  9. Doug Lasken 2 years ago2 years ago

    The fact that the suit calls for "native language materials" indicates to me that this is part of the ill-advised movement pushing SB 1174, designed to gut Prop. 227, which gave immigrant children the right to be taught English. 227 passed with a solid majority (across ethnic lines) and was upheld by every court. Plus, it was the right thing to do, as shown by the almost immediate jump in elementary reading scores after … Read More

    The fact that the suit calls for “native language materials” indicates to me that this is part of the ill-advised movement pushing SB 1174, designed to gut Prop. 227, which gave immigrant children the right to be taught English. 227 passed with a solid majority (across ethnic lines) and was upheld by every court. Plus, it was the right thing to do, as shown by the almost immediate jump in elementary reading scores after 227. The people opposing this progress need better things to do with their time and money.

  10. el 2 years ago2 years ago

    I'm curious about why these particular students aren't getting the services and materials they're entitled to. Is it because they're in particular schools that don't have these services? Is it because they speak some obscure language? In our region, I'm aware that some districts are electing to decline the Title III money as being too little money for the amount of paperwork and administrative staff time that is required. Read More

    I’m curious about why these particular students aren’t getting the services and materials they’re entitled to. Is it because they’re in particular schools that don’t have these services? Is it because they speak some obscure language?

    In our region, I’m aware that some districts are electing to decline the Title III money as being too little money for the amount of paperwork and administrative staff time that is required.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      It’s a great question. Edsource did an article a while back on the phenomenon at lausd in particular I believe (or at least where that was highlighted). I can’t remember how well it was answered there. I expect some may actively refuse the service, though I don’t know if that’s even legal. Lack of staff is likely another reason.

  11. navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

    The state audits a small percentage of districts annually, which it says meets its obligation to monitor federal funding – a position that the Department of Justice and the ACLU dispute. Hmm, when was the last time the Feds bothered to look at anyone's school plan and crack down on the districts (probably all of them) that fail compliance on that measure, and more importantly, it's implementation. Ironically, that is also where they'd be most likely … Read More

    The state audits a small percentage of districts annually, which it says meets its obligation to monitor federal funding – a position that the Department of Justice and the ACLU dispute.

    Hmm, when was the last time the Feds bothered to look at anyone’s school plan and crack down on the districts (probably all of them) that fail compliance on that measure, and more importantly, it’s implementation. Ironically, that is also where they’d be most likely to find evidence for the failures they are claiming here. Instead they sit in their marble fortresses giving lip service to civil rights while children and their parents, who attempt to hold districts to their obligations, are thrown under the bus.
    Put your money where your mouth is or keep both to yourself.

    Replies

    • Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

      Bravo. These federal civil rights lawyers and well-paid "advocates" who once dabbled in schooling will drive masses of citizens out of the state school system, who will in turn clamor for vouchers to pay for the mediocre educations the state schools formerly provided, those they will be too drained and overwhelmed to continue with. These actions will probably be accompanied by calls for tax cuts, and voila! the feds and the civil rights lawyers will … Read More

      Bravo. These federal civil rights lawyers and well-paid “advocates” who once dabbled in schooling will drive masses of citizens out of the state school system, who will in turn clamor for vouchers to pay for the mediocre educations the state schools formerly provided, those they will be too drained and overwhelmed to continue with. These actions will probably be accompanied by calls for tax cuts, and voila! the feds and the civil rights lawyers will get the chance to see how many illegal immigrants they can educate on $105 per year.

      This kind of organized, federally backed oppression endangers the continued viability of the United States of America. There are movements towards devolution and the breakup of former empires around the world — a current example in the news is the possibility of Scotland departing a less United Kingdom. The idea that the U.S.A. might break up feels preposterous; but then again, few anticipated the breakup of the Soviet Union, which was led by the secession of Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan from the central government.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        Robert Reich wrote a piece just a few days ago musing about the potential need for just such a breakup.

        • Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

          I have long respected Robert Reich, and enjoy hearing his commentaries.

    • el 2 years ago2 years ago

      We had the federal monitoring people come to our district last year. They were very thorough. I personally got my hand slapped for causing the SPSA to veer off the template as a vocal parent. 😉

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        We just left all the original template data in there and nobody noticed. 😉

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        It's impossible for the CDE to monitor every school. The SACS accounting system provided some measure of accountability. It was and is far from perfect but at least if districts wanted to divert funding they had to be sly about it, which acted as a deterrent. That was before much of the spending was untethered. From a macro perspective, it doesn't make much sense for the Feds to support the new local … Read More

        It’s impossible for the CDE to monitor every school. The SACS accounting system provided some measure of accountability. It was and is far from perfect but at least if districts wanted to divert funding they had to be sly about it, which acted as a deterrent. That was before much of the spending was untethered. From a macro perspective, it doesn’t make much sense for the Feds to support the new local control law and at the same time support a suit against the state for failing to monitor LEAs.

        As for the thoroughness of monitoring, that they announced their schedules in advanced and allowed LEAs to prepare did not provide accurate audits of the districts. Monitoring was intended to put a gloss on the districts. In SFUSD it was just a show and then, onceover, reversion back to business as usual.

        Really, I’d like to know how the plaintiffs in this case are making their determination as to loss of services since there is so little data available. Have they done an audits, monitoring? On what do they base their assertions.

        • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

          Self-reporting by districts. I think the article mentions that means it’s likely only the tip of the iceberg.

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