Reviews mixed on bilingual ruling

EDUCATION: More than half of Orange Unified's bilingual teachers have already left the district.

A Monday court order that halted the Orange Unified School District’s plan to drop bilingual instruction won’t affect some classrooms.

While district officials said they would cope the best they could, one school principal said the reality is that it would be “business as usual” at her school.

“There are about 30 languages spoken at our school,” said Anaheim Hills Elementary School Principal Nancy Shipcott. “Teaching in English is the only way we can effectively teach these children. “

Some Spanish-speaking parents hailed the temporary restraining order issued by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Ronald B. Robie as an important victory in their fight to preserve bilingual education in Orange. Others, like Orange school board President Martin Jacobson, saw the ruling in an entirely different light.

“Maybe the judge can send us some bilingual teachers on loan for a while,” said Jacobson in a joking reference to the recent departure of more than half of the district’s bilingual instructors. “Maybe the judge is bilingual and would like to teach one of our classes. ” A full hearing may be conducted as early as next month on the lawsuit, filed by a group of Orange parents and Hispanic activists.

Plaintiff Juana del Val, an Orange parent who spoke through an interpreter, said she was cheered by the ruling because “I do not have a lot of education, and it is very difficult for myfamily.

Although I do not speak English, I have been able to help my child with school and I have been able to participate in his education. “

Orange is the fourth school district to gain a bilingual waiver from the state. The other three are also in Orange County _ the Westminster, Magnolia and Savanna districts, where waivers were given because the districts couldn’t find enough bilingual teachers to meet state and federal requirements.

Some parents who support the concept of English-only instruction said the potential impact of the ruling was a concern.

“It’s going to be a scramble,” said Susan Waltrip, who edits an education newsletter called The Forum.

Janice White, an Orange parent, said she was unsure whether bilingual or English-only was the right approach, but she regrets that the board’s actions resulted in costly litigation.

“I think if there had been more input from the parents who were most directly affected by (the change), we might have avoided this,” White said. “This litigation is taking money away from the general fund and from our children. “

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