About 60 people concerned with bilingual education in Denver Public Schools protested Thursday outside the school board meeting and called for the resignation of the district superintendent.
Carrying signs saying “Remove Irv Moskowitz” and “Being bilingual is a right, not a privilege,” they demanded that DPS Superintendent Irv Moskowitz step down because they say the district is not addressing the needs of students who do not speak English.
Denver’s bilingual education program is under review by the U.S. Department of Justice after the U.S. Department of Education ruled last year that the program failed to adequately teach students with limited English speaking skills.
“We know that a good bilingual program is critical to the children so they can learn to speak, read and write English,” Mary Salazar of Padres Unidos, a local Hispanic organization that is currently suing DPS, said in Spanish.
Moskowitz was in Washington meeting with government officials about the program and could not be reached for comment.
“They obviously don’t fully understand the positive impact Mr. Moskowitz has had upon our district,” board President Sue Edwards said. “They also don’t understand the impact of the new English language acquisition program.”
The major sticking point has been how long to keep students in bilingual classes.
The district has proposed mainstreaming students into regular classes after three years, but opponents say that is not enough time.
In other news, Joseph C’ de Baca, a former teacher at West High, accused the district of fixing grades. C’ de Baca, now a history teacher at East High, said in a public hearing that some teachers were encouraged to not give failing grades.
The former and current principals at West High and the president of the Denver Classroom Teacher’s Association could not be reached for comment. School board members had mixed reactions.
“If this is taking place, it is very serious and we need to look into it,” board member Elaine Berman said.
Added board member Lee White: “I think you are probably very, very mistaken. This is not a policy of the district.”