The state’s public schools should continue to educate bilingual students in their native languages even after they have made the transition to English-language classrooms, a new report by the Executive Office of Education argues, adding that the practice will not interfere with improving their English and will prevent them from losing their native language skills.
The 92-page report released yesterday by the Bilingual Education Commission offered recommendations to revamp bilingual education, noting that higher academic standards required under education reform must apply equally to the 43,000 students enrolled in formal bilingual education programs.
More than 105,000 students, about 12 percent of the state’s total enrollment, are bilingual, nearly double the number a decade ago.
“The future of bilingual education is linked to the Education Reform Act,’ said Secretary of Education Piedad Robertson, who heads the commission. “Responsibility for educating language minority pupils cannot be placed upon bilingual programs alone.”
Specifically, the report addresses ways to increase accountability, enlarge the number of certified bilingual teachers and prepare all staff to work more effectively with bilingual students.
According to the report, an average of $ 4,136 was spent on each mainstream education student last year, while $ 4,663 was spent on bilingual education pupils. By comparison, about $ 14,838 was spent per special education student