Saturday, February 07, 2009

Texas court delays overhaul of ESL and bilingual programs

From a Houston Chronicle article:
McALLEN, Texas — A federal appeals court has delayed an overhaul of bilingual and English-as-a-second-language programs in Texas schools. Last year, U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice had ruled that Texas schools had failed middle and high school students with limited English.

So here's the problem:
Texas students receive bilingual education through sixth grade then switch to ESL classes, but the state lacks clear standards to evaluating the ESL programs.

What's wrong with this picture? Why are students from bilingual education classes switching to ESL classes? Assuming that these students have been in the school system since kindergarten, this is completely unacceptable. There has to be a severe problem with their bilingual education model if students are not actually becoming bilingual. The goal of bilingual programs is to create bilingual and biliterate students who can perform at grade level in both languages. There is no excuse for the failure to teach English at grade level to bilingual students. It is a sorry disgrace when students who have been raised in the United States are placed in ESL classes after six years of schooling.

David Hinojosa, who filed a lawsuit against the state was disappointed by the delay, saying,
"Texas has a monitoring issue that allows thousands and thousands of failing students to fall through the cracks. Unless things change, they'll continue to be lost in a system that fails them."

So why the delay? Texas Education Agency Spokeswoman, Suzanne Marchman stated
This gives the Legislature a chance to take a look at any laws they might want to pass to address the issue before we're forced to make decisions.

With this dire situation in front of them, they better work fast.

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