For all the controversy surrounding Proposition 227, there’s one part of the anti-bilingual education initiative that everyone seems to like.
The measure, which requires that children be taught “overwhelmingly” in English, includes $50 million a year to teach parents and other adults the language. In return, those grown-ups will be expected to tutor students learning English.
School districts across Ventura County have applied for the money, which works out to about $60 per limited-English-speaking student.
“It’s a bad idea to place children in an English-speaking environment and send them home to parents who cannot at all help them with their homework because of the language difference,” said Sheri Annis, spokeswoman of the pro-227 campaign, English for the Children.
The state is expected to dole out the funds in January. Districts say they’re still figuring out how to spend the money, but already they have plenty of ideas.
Some districts plan to expand their adult school programs. Ventura Unified, for instance, wants to send one of two mobile classrooms to schools and other public places across the city. Parents would study English and learn how to tutor. They might also review their child’s textbooks and learn vocabulary words that pop up in science, social studies and other classes.
“It’s so new right now we really don’t know what’s going to happen with this program,” said Barry Tronstad, principal of Ventura’s adult school.
The Moorpark Unified School District wants to offer English and tutoring classes at Flory School, said Alison Drain, a project director. English-as-second-language classes are now taught just at Chaparral Middle School twice a week.
Parents in the Oxnard Union High School District will be able to learn English through a 26-part instructional video series. Parents would watch the videos at home (or view the show on cable TV), then come to school once a week to go over homework and meet with other students and a teacher.
The adult school also would offer more English-as-Second-Language classes, which are already full.
“It will allow us to do much more with the parents, and I think that’s good,” said Walt Dunlop, who oversees Oxnard Union’s programs for limited-English and migrant students.
While educators are glad to have more money for English programs, some wonder how effective they will be.
Cliff Rodrigues, the county’s bilingual education director, said it’s one thing to learn enough English to carry on a conversation, but it takes much longer to use the language academically.
“To assume that these parents are going to be able to learn English and come back and tutor their kids, to me, that’s a fallacy,” he said.
Still, Rodrigues believes the money will bring good results. “The intent is fantastic,” he said. “At least we’re going to get some extra help so parents can learn English.”
“It’s a bad idea to place children in an English-speaking environment and send them home to parents who cannot at all help them with their homework because of the language difference.”
spokeswoman of the
English for the Children