Sunday, June 19, 2011

Joint Statement by MALDEF, TABE and LULAC Helps Defeat Plan to Abolish Bilingual Education

Compliments of LUAC:

For a copy of the article which explains the meeting in detail visit the Dallas Morning New of June 14 page 2B, article entitled Irving: New trustees defeated on English plan.


LULAC Addresses Irving Independent School District Board

Joint Statement by MALDEF, TABE and LULAC Helps Defeat Plan to Abolish Bilingual Education

Newly elected Deputy State Director for the Elderly Richard Sambrano on Monday night addressed the Irving Independent School District Board of Trustees before a standing room only crowd to oppose the two new trustees’ proposal to create an optional English immersion program for Spanish-speaking children.

During public comments, speakers argued against newcomers Steven Jones and Gail Wells’ proposal and defended Superintendent Dana Bedden, whose conduct during the election drew criticism from Jones and Wells not unlike the tactics employed by the Tea Party against President Obama.

Quoting from a letter from a coalition including LULAC, MALDEF and the Texas Association of Bilingual Educators sent to the president of the school board and superintendent, which was circulated to all board members and the media, Sambrano among other things said: According to a story printed in the Dallas Morning News on June 13,2011 (“Irving ISD board meeting Monday has packed agenda, new trustees propose several items”), trustees Steven Jones and Gail Wells are advocating for a structured English immersion program for Spanish-speaking limited English proficient students. It is our understanding that the pair has also placed an item on the agenda proposing to eliminate the District’s bilingual program for grades K-5. We strongly believe this “sink-or-swim” approach would not only be a disservice to Irving students, but also a violation of ELL students’ rights under state law.

The letter continues: The academic debate is over in terms of which language programs work and which do not. All credible research shows that the longer a student receives instruction in their native language, the better they achieve academically and Irving ISD’s efforts to move toward structured English immersion would not only adversely affect student performance in the long run but would also likely hamper the District’s accountability ratings. Structured Immersion programs result in superficial success where students are playground-proficient in English, but not academically proficient in English and prepared to take standardized tests. Immersion programs have failed miserably wherever they have been implemented the evidence is there from California to Arizona to Massachusetts. In fact, dual language is now the most popular and successful Bilingual program in Texas, as more than 1 in 3 schools (over 800) now implement them in every regional education center across the state.

The letter went on to say that it not only makes sense educationally to offer high quality Bilingual Education programs, but it is required under Texas law. In addition, the Commissioner’s regulations require that school districts provide to students ”information describing the bilingual education, its benefits to the student, and its being an integral part of the school program to ensure that the parents understand the purposes and content of the program.”

Finally, the letter, signed by David Hinojosa of MALDEF, Dr. Richard Gomez of TABE, and Jorge Rivera president of the LULAC council in Irving, urges the Irving ISD to abandon policies that have failed in district by district and will only lead to failing grades and higher dropout rates.. Instead they urged the district to continue implementing and supporting strong bilingual programs, like dual language.

This can be seen as a tremendous victory for Hispanics throughout the state as it places on call other districts that may try to abolish bilingual education. The vote was 5-2 against the two new trustees’ proposition and in favor of MADEF, TABE and LULAC.

Among a host of speakers were the founder of a former Irving LULAC council and plaintiff in a redistricting lawsuit in federal court Manuel Benavidez, former LULAC member, and Accion America president Carlos Quintania. Many thanks to Jorge Rivera who mobilized the Hispanic community as not seen in a long time in Irving.

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