Other Versions of Initiative Filed
AN INITIATIVE PETITION FOR A LAW: An Act relative to the teaching of English in Public Schools
AN INITIATIVE PETITION FOR A LAW:
An Act relative to the teaching of English in Public Schools
Be it enacted by the People, and by their authority, as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter Seventy-one A of the General Laws as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition is hereby amended by striking sections 1 through 9 and substituting the following:
Section 1. Findings and Declarations
The People of Massachusetts find and declare that:
Section. 2. Definitions
In this chapter,
Section 3. Census.
Local school committees shall annually ascertain, not earlier than the first day of April, under regulations prescribed by the Department of Education, the number of English learners within their school system in grades Kindergarten through twelve, and shall classify them according to grade level, the language of which they possess a primary speaking ability, and the English learner program type in which they are enrolled, with all such information being made publicly available by school and school district on a website.
Section 4. English language education
Subject to the exceptions provided in Section 5 of this chapter, all children in Massachusetts public schools shall be taught English by being taught in English and all children shall be placed in English language classrooms. Children who are English learners shall be educated through sheltered English immersion during a temporary transition period not normally intended to exceed one school year. Local schools shall be permitted but not required to place in the same classroom English learners of different ages but whose degree of English proficiency is similar. Local schools shall be encouraged to mix together in the same classroom English learners from different native-language groups but with the same degree of English fluency. Once English learners acquire a good working knowledge of English and are able to do regular school work in English, they shall no longer be classified as English learners and shall be transferred to English language mainstream classrooms. Foreign language classes for children who already know English shall be completely unaffected, as shall be special educational programs for physically- or mentally-impaired students.
Section 5. Parental waivers
(a). The requirements of Section 4 of this chapter may be waived with the prior written informed consent, to be provided annually, of the child’s parents or legal guardian under the circumstances specified in this section. Such informed consent shall require that said parents or legal guardian personally visit the school to apply for the waiver and that they there be provided a full description in a language they can understand of the educational materials to be used in the different educational program choices and all the educational opportunities available to the child. If a parental waiver has been granted, the affected child may be transferred to classes teaching English and other subjects through bilingual education techniques, such as two-way bilingual programs, or other generally recognized educational methodologies permitted by law. Individual schools in which 20 students or more of a given grade level receive a waiver shall be required to offer such a class; in all other cases, such students must be permitted to transfer to a public school in which such a class is offered.
(b). The circumstances in which a parental exception waiver may be applied for under this section are as follows:
Section 6. Legal standing and parental enforcement
Section 7. Standardized testing for monitoring education progress
To ensure that the educational progress of all students in learning English together with other academic subjects is properly monitored, a standardized, nationally-normed written test of academic subject matter given in English shall be administered at least once each year to all public schoolchildren in grades 2 and higher who are English learners. This requirement shall not be construed as barring the administration of this same exam to other students. A nationally-normed test of English proficiency shall similarly be administered at least once each year to all Massachusetts schoolchildren in grades Kindergarten and higher who are English learners. Only English learners classified as severely learning disabled may be exempted from these tests. The particular tests to be used shall be selected by the Board of Education, and it is intended that the tests shall usually remain the same from year to year. The national percentile scores of students shall be confidentially provided to individual parents, and the aggregated percentile scores and distributional data for individual schools and school districts shall be made publicly available on an internet web site; the scores for students classified as English learners shall be separately sub-aggregated and made publicly available there as well, with further sub-aggregation based on the English learner program type in which they are enrolled. School enrollment by race, ethnicity, and English learner program type shall also be made publicly available. Although administration of these tests are required solely for monitoring educational progress, public officials and administrators may utilize these test scores for other purposes as well if they so choose.
Section 8. Community-Based English Tutoring.
In furtherance of its constitutional and legal obligation to provide all children with an adequate education, the state shall encourage family members and others to provide personal English language tutoring to such children as are English learners, and support these efforts by raising the general level of English language knowledge in the community. Subject to appropriation by the General Court, commencing with the fiscal year in which this initiative is enacted and for each of the nine fiscal years following thereafter, a sum of five million dollars ($5,000,000) per year shall be spent for the purpose of providing funding for free or subsidized programs of adult English language instruction to parents or other members of the community who pledge to provide personal English language tutoring to Massachusetts school children who are English learners. Programs funded pursuant to this section shall be provided through schools or community organizations. Funding for these programs shall be administered by the Department of Education, and shall be disbursed at the discretion of the local school committees in each district, under reasonable guidelines established by, and subject to the review of, the Board of Education.
SECTION 2. Severability
If a provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.
SECTION 3. Interpretation
Under circumstances in which portions of this act are subject to conflicting interpretations, the Findings and Declarations of subsection 1 of section 1 of this act shall be assumed to contain the governing intent of this act.
SECTION 4. Effective Date
Except for the testing requirements of subsection 7 of section 1 of this act, which shall be implemented immediately, all other sections of this act shall become effective for all school years that begin following the effective date of this act.
We the undersigned state under the pains and penalties of perjury that we have personally read the final text of this proposed statute titled An Act relative to the teaching of English in Public Schools, fully subscribe to its contents, are qualified voters of the commonwealth at the addresses printed below our names, and freely and voluntarily agree to be one of its original signers as required by Amendment Article 48 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Voter Registration Address