About 25 Latino parents staged a demonstration Thursday to protest the lack of Spanish-language instruction for children attending the Sun Valley elementary school where teachers started a statewide anti-bilingual education movement.
Parents protesting at the Glenwood School said teachers there are ignoring state and district rules that require their children to be taught subjects in their native language.
“We are supposed to have a bilingual program,” said Margarita Cardenas, who has three children at the school. “But the teachers and administrators here are not providing the proper instruction.”
More than half of the school’s 818 students speak limited English, school officials said. Nearly 90% of the students enrolled at Glenwood are Latino. But only four of 28 teachers there have been certified as proficient in Spanish, Principal Art Chandler said.
The problem at Glenwood, Chandler said, is the same as at other schools in the district: a shortage of qualified bilingual teachers. The school is conforming with state and district bilingual requirements by using Spanish-speaking classroom aides, he said.
Protesters said, however, that teachers belonging to a group called Learning English Advocates Drive have made only halfhearted efforts to implement the district’s bilingual program.
The founder of LEAD, as well as its top officers, teach at Glenwood. The group believes that children should not be taught subjects in any language other than English.
Glenwood teacher June Frankenberg, a LEAD officer, agreed that most teachers at the school oppose the district’s bilingual education plan. She said she was not opposed to students being bilingual but would prefer that they learn and speak Spanish at home.
“Children are not going to learn English if they are being taught in Spanish,” said Frankenberg, who teaches a class of fourth- and fifth-graders. “All my students are learning English, and they are happy.”
The LEAD group, founded in 1987, claims a membership of 20,000. Founder Sally Peterson, a Glenwood kindergarten teacher who has received help from the English-only movement, has given LEAD national attention as an outspoken opponent of bilingual education.
Flora Cole, vice chairman of the district’s bilingual and bicultural advisory committee serving the area, said that kind of thinking is creating problems for children who have done well at schools in their own country, then enroll in the Los Angeles district speaking little or no English.
“If they are not taught subjects in their native language right away, the alternative is to spend two to three years learning English,” Cole said. “During that time they’re falling behind, losing interest and, finally, dropping out.”
The district’s bilingual education program is intended to teach students subjects in their native language while they learn English gradually over one to three years. In that fashion students continue to advance in subjects such as reading, writing and arithmetic while they are learning English.
State Department of Education officials are investigating whether Glenwood and other schools in the Los Angeles school district receiving state bilingual funds are complying with requirements for use of the money, spokeswoman Susie Lange said.