The Coming Storm on English Learner Redesignation Rates
Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to a reporter about ELL redesignation rates. She had attended a redesignation ceremony at a local elementary school and wanted some comments on redesignation rates.
When I think about this system, one in which I taught, one where my child is labeled an ELL because spanish is spoken in the home, I start with some adjectives: abysmal, horrible, unconscionable and backward.
This is a broken system. Any system that allows a child to remain an ELL from Kindergarten to 12th grade, is broken. Any system that dooms so many smart and able youth to dumbed down, second rate coursework in middle and high school is a broken system. Any system that has no consistency from district to district, school to school, even classroom to classroom within a school is a broken system. Any system that allows a child who is fully proficient or advanced on the CST to remain an English Learner is a broken system. Any system that cannot bring a child to full proficiency in 3 years, is a broken system. Any system that does not acknowledge and build on the strengths of a child in their native langauge is a broken system. Any system that disempowers parents across the board, neither allowing them consent on designation or consent on educational programming, is a broken system.
California has 1.3 million English Language Learners. That is a quarter of the ELL’s in the nation. Each of those children and their parents deserve a better system – one that acknowledges the strengths and skills they bring to the classroom, the importance and value of their native langauge and the importance and value of full English proficiency. When we have that system, when the discussion on ELL’s is placed within that context instead of the outdated politics of langauge, we will have a true “education” system.
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