It's teacher hunting season!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Services denied to NYC's ELL students: Shame on Klein's DOE!

The New York Post, that tabloid that we don't like, has written an expose on how New York City is deprived English Language Learner (English as a Second Language) services to thousands of schoolchildren.
The April 12, 2010 edition carried Yoav Gonen's fine story, "Tongue tied at school: English-help crisis."

This writer has been familiar with the trend, since around 2004, of the city's giving the cold shoulder to the kind of student that it does not like: the overage student, the ELL (today's term for ESL) student, the special education student. These trends are most evident in the smaller schools. These students need extra services; they take longer to graduate. The city, I suspect, sees them as a nuisance, a drag on the city's graduation statistics. It denies them services. In giving them the cold shoulder, I suspect that the city wants them to just go away.
In the heady early 2000s some large high schools had entire departments of ESL teachers to serve the city's large immigrant population. These services supplemented bilingual programs in Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

I charge that this negligence of ELL students is motivated by a short-sighted resistance to spend money. The ESL classes of the 2000s were often quite small: eight to twenty-five students. Joel Klein's Department of Education probably saw these classes as a drag on city coffers.
More than 8,000 city public school students struggling to learn English didn't get any language help last year, even though they were entitled to it by law, state statistics show.

Another 43,000 kids -- or nearly one in three of the 138,000 students identified by the city as "English language learners" -- didn't get the full range of services they should have received during the 2008-09 school year.

Among the districts with the largest gaps in English language support were Manhattan's District 3, where 11.7 percent of the roughly 2,000 foreign-language speakers identified got no services last year, and Brooklyn's District 14, where nearly 11 percent received no services, according to the data.

"There's a neglect here and an unwillingness for people to say we need to hold [somebody] accountable for the results of these students," said Luis Reyes, a longtime bilingual educator and former member of the city's Board of Education. "It's not clear that anybody is paying attention."

Non-native English language speakers are supposed to be offered programs in English as a Second Language, bilingual programs, or both.

ESL classes give students some support in their native language, while bilingual programs help them to develop more fully in both their native language and in English.

Students in these programs are among those with the lowest four-year high school graduation rates in the city.

Read more of the New York Post article:

This is another social injustice that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), needs to get behind, just as it did with the negligence of special education students.

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