English-only for Orange

EDUCATION: One elementary school's request to offer bilingual classes is turned down.

ORANGE, CA—Minutes after voting for English-only instruction in all schools, the district board Thursday night rejected Jordan Elementary’s request to become a charter school offering bilingual classes.

Jordan, where two-thirds of the 600 students speak limited English, had asked to become Orange Unified School District’s second campus to obtain independent control of its budget and curriculum decisions.

Board members did not rule out eventual approval of the request, which was rejected by a 6-1 vote. In addition to showing concern about the bilingual-education proposal, the board asked for more information about requirements for parental involvement and how student progress would be assessed.

“I just want what’s best for the children,” board member Maureen Aschoff said. “Whether it’s bilingual or English immersion. “

Jordan Principal Kit Dameronsaid she was unsure of the next step.

“Our feeling is, if you can’t have control of a school, what’s the point of a charter, other than the fact that you have to do a lot of extra work,” Dameron said. “The carrot is local control. “

Celso Rodriguez, a bilingual teacher at Jordan, said he was optimistic that the charter request will be accepted.

“We’re going to work on it,” he said. “I think we can make changes without selling our soul. “

About 22 percent of Orange’s 28,000 students speak limited English, but the rate varies from a handful of students at some elementary schools to two-thirds of the enrollment at Jordan.

In voting unanimously in favor of English-only instruction districtwide, the board moved to request a state waiver of laws requiring that children receive instruction in their native language.

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