LANCASTER—Two school districts plan to spend money provided by Proposition 227 – the voter-approved measure that curtails bilingual education – to teach English to parents who then will tutor their bilingual children.
The Lancaster School District and the Antelope Valley Union High School District each have applied to receive a portion of the $ 50 million in state money.
”We actually feel that having our parents being able to communicate with their children in English would be preferable and make them better able to support their students at school, especially if the student is in a class where only English is being used,” said Howard Sundberg, assistant superintendent for educational services with the Lancaster School District.
”Our goal all along is to produce an English-speaking student,” he added. ”If we can have an English-speaking parent as well, that’s beneficial to all involved.”
Proposition 227 dismantled much of bilingual education for California’s 1.4 million children who are not fluent in English. Under the new law, schools must provide a one-year English-immersion program for children who are not proficient in English.
The initiative stipulated that the state divide $ 50 million among school districts that teach English to parents and other community members who pledge to tutor children from limited-English proficiency backgrounds.
”The intent of the initiative is to raise the general level of knowledge about the English language in the community,” a letter from the state Department of Education states.
Districts receive about $ 60 for each limited-English-proficient student, putting Lancaster in line to receive $ 78,000 and the high school district $ 24,000.
School districts are limited to using the funds for program services, community notification, transportation and background checks related to the tutoring program, the letter said.
Sundberg said he has not received funding regulations, so he doesn’t know if the district can use the money to provide baby sitting, which would make it easier for parents to attend classes.
”Parents can’t come because no one can watch the kids,” Sundberg said. ”We have a lot of parents who want to learn English or want to find some way to support their child in the educational process.”
On the whole, Sundberg said the money will go toward paying people to teach the classes.
According to a Lancaster School District staff report, the district must maintain thorough, auditable records of expenditures, and records also must be kept indicating that program participants have pledged to provide tutoring.
Sundberg said the district is limited as far as monitoring if parents actually tutor their children.
”We could make it available to them to be able to do it. There will be different levels of support to students,” Sundberg said. ”Most people, when they sign their name to do it, will do it. We can’t be in a position to police actions at home.”