Santa Rosa schools will forgo intensive-English classes as the law proposes and instead put all second-language students in regular classrooms.

Students can be taught up to 60 minutes a day in Spanish, officials said,
but that will happen only at a few schools because of the lack of bilingual teachers.

Superintendent Dale Vigil defended the approach because it doesn’t segregate the limited-English students. They would learn English as they work in all subjects, including math and social studies, he said.

Sherri Annis, spokeswoman for the group that sponsored Proposition 227,
said Santa Rosa’s approach was inferior to that proposed in the initiative.
When enough second-language students enroll at a school, she said, those children “really should be in a sheltered English immersion classroom”
rather than regular classes. That way the students can receive special instruction.

Other county districts will offer a mix of approaches, depending on how many second-language students they have in a particular school.

In Petaluma, Penngrove School is one of two year-round campuses now in session. The school has about 20 limited-English students among its enrollment of 350. The language program is basically the same as last year, said Principal Delia Clements. The students are learning English in regular classrooms and the school’s bilingual aide helps them understand their lessons.

“They’re fully included with our other mainstream children,”
Clements said.

Other Petaluma schools have a larger portion of limited-English students and formerly offered those children bilingual instruction. Those schools probably will place some students in sheltered classrooms where a teacher or aide will speak a limited amount of Spanish to the children.

“The core instruction will be in English,” said Assistant Superintendent Steve Collins. “Making it comprehensible willbe in Spanish.”

Some of those schools may have enough parents seeking waivers to allow bilingual instruction, he said.

In the Sonoma Valley School District, officials may offer parents the choice of a sheltered, mainstream or bilingual program. The school board is scheduled to consider a plan Thursday.

Students in the sheltered and mainstream programs might receive a limited amount of Spanish, though it might be slightly more than the 60 minutes allowed in Santa Rosa, said Gary Moe, student services director for the Sonoma Valley Schools District.

Moe said Sonoma Valley will be relying more on teachers who aren’t bilingual but already have been trained to instruct the second-language students in English. Some of those teachers haven’t done as much of that type of instruction in recent years -partly because of the emphasis on bilingual education.

“Those teachers will have to step up and do more English-language development than they have in the past,” he said.



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