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KPBS Midday Edition

Proposition 58 Passed, Now What?

San Gabriel teacher Jenny Tan helps a student who's been in the U.S. less than a year learn the basics of English.
San Gabriel teacher Jenny Tan helps a student who's been in the U.S. less than a year learn the basics of English.
Proposition 58 Passed, Now What?
Proposition 58 Passed, Now What? GUEST: Cristina Alfaro, chair of the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education, San Diego State University

California voters overwhelmingly supported prop 58 on the ballot which ended the 18 year mandate up English only instruction in public schools. The proposition actually offer schools and school districts a number of different options when it comes to offering bilingual education and some are wondering if there are no bilingual teachers left in California to fill the demand for joining me is Cristina Alfaro, an associate professor of English language and by literacy development in the College of education at San Diego University. Welcome to the program. I think you. Prop 58 goes into effect next July the way to think school should be doing between now and then to prepare? Extra day had an opportunity to be with several superintendents and principals locally in San Diego County in the cautionary note that we are putting out there for all that are considering opening up dual language programs is we should wait at least a year. We should have at the very minimum one year of a planning period because there is a lot of steps that need to take place. First of all you need to consider what is the best by literacy model for your district based on the context of your community. That takes a while because one of the main things we want everybody to consider is that if we are going to do this we need to do it right and we need to look at the research that informs the program that you decide to implement. What kinds of options to schools have when it comes to offering bilingual and dual language programs under this new proposition? The options vary from having what we call a 50/50 model, we have a 90/10 model, a one-way and two-way. It is a variety of models. One thing I want to call out is if people are interested they can go to the website, California Association for bilingual associate or so and it has 17 points that districts must consider before opening up a dual language program. I highly recommend that parents and districts look at that. Once a district decides it wants to move forward with bilingual education programs to think there will be enough bilingual teachers? That is the million-dollar question and that is what I was having a discussion with a lot of the principles is because what they are doing is calling our program here at San Diego State because we are the largest bilingual teacher program in California. For the immediate what we are asking school districts to do is to look at how may bilingual teachers they actually already have that are teaching in English only program because as a consequence of proposition 227 which was restricting bilingual education a lot of bilingual teachers went to English only programs. To do a survey to find out how many teachers are already out there that are credentialed and then basically offer them professional development. The other aspect is looking at some of the credentialed teachers right now that would like to add a bilingual authorization to their credential so that would take care of the immediate needs, it would not fulfill all of the needs but right now in our program we do not have enough teachers at this point to fulfill what we consider will be the demand in July. From what you are saying we do not actually know here in San Diego how many teachers might be capable right now of conducting a bilingual course work Exactly. That is one of the first things that eight of the cautionary note in order to have an effective dual language program you must have highly prepared bilingual teachers so that is very important. You mentioned that you want to see schools and school districts take their time in deciding how to move forward on this. And to use other places, there bilingual programs perhaps as models. Can you give us an example of what a model bilingual or dual language might be? Where very fortunate in San Diego. We have over 100 programs in San Diego County. Of those we have many that are award-winning programs. When you look at effective models you are looking at not only the measurement, the role of measurement is always test scores. Yes they have the test scores but more importantly they also have a situation where there is a balance and equity as to who is being served in these dual language programs because one of the things we want to make sure is that a ZIP Code does not determine the quality of the program that students are going to be receiving also the quality of the teachers. When you look at this you are looking at the professional development that is being provided for the teachers, the curriculum and the cultural competence that these teachers come with because it is not just about language. Interestingly as you mentioned in the last few years we have seen the demand for dual language immersion programs grow especially in upper-middle-class communities so even now with Prop 58 you seem to say there is a concern that those programs perhaps want to be available to lower income students? Since 227 happened there -- parents had to fill out a waiver to say they weren't willing to have their students him dual language programs. However in upper-middle-class communities a waiver was not necessary so it has been a lot easier to open up dual language programs in upper-middle-class communities than it has been in lower socioeconomic communities. That is one of the things we have to watch out for that now that we know as a society that bilingualism and multilingualism is a real asset in the global society that we live in so we want to make sure that all students regardless of their ZIP Code have equity in access to these quality dual language programs. I've been speaking with 13 associate professor of English language and by literacy development in the College of education at San Diego State. Thank you. I think you. -- Thank you.

California voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 58 on the November ballot, which ended the 18-year mandate of English-only instruction in public schools.

Proposition 58 doesn't go into effect until July 2017, but it doesn't actually establish new bilingual programs. That will be up to local communities to decide.

But are there enough bilingual teachers in California to fill demand if communities do add programs? And what is being done to ensure new bilingual programs reach the neediest students?

Cristina Alfaro, associate professor of English language and biliteracy development in the College of Education at San Diego State University, discusses Wednesday on KPBS Midday Edition.