ACLU Pushing For English Classes For 20,000 California Kids
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Aired 1/25/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
David Loy, Legal Director, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
Cristina Alfaro, SDSU Department of Policy Studies in Language and Cross Cultural Education
Aired 1/28/13 on KPBS News.
The ACLU says the number of students not receiving English language instruction in California schools is unacceptable.
According to numbers from the California Department of Education, thousands of students in California are not receiving mandated English language instruction and the American Civil Liberties Association is threatening to take the issue to court. The ACLU has given state officials 30 days to provide adequate English instruction, before it files a lawsuit.
In a letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and members of the state Board of Education, the ACLU is demanding that English-language classes be provided in 250 school districts statewide in compliance with state and federal law.
ACLU Letter To Superintendent of Public Instruction
In San Diego, the numbers show the majority of kids not receiving English language services are in the Grossmont, Vista and San Marcos school districts.
According to the ACLU's report, during the 2010-2011 school year more than 41 percent of English learners, or 1,389 students, in the Grossmont High school district went without English-language instruction.
But if the district has a problem, Theresa Kemper, assistant superintendent of educational services, said it’s with properly labeling students in the state’s reporting system. She said the students identified as getting no services are actually the district’s highest achieving non-native English speakers.
“So they’re sitting out there, not in special English language development classes, but they’re sitting in freshman English, sophomore English, college preparatory classes, in honors classes, even in AP classes,” she said
David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties said reporting errors could account for some of students counted as going without English instruction. But not enough to change what the his organization called a systematic denial of services to thousands of students.