Board Quietly Adopts Plan Three Options To Learn English

For all the controversy Proposition 227 created before being voted on and approved in June, Modesto City Schools’ plan to comply with it was approved without a hitch.

Monday night, the board unanimously approved its plan to implement the initiative requiring California students be taught in English.

“This has obviously had potential for great controversy,” said Jim Enochs, district superintendent. “I think this is a reasonable, reasoned program.”

Under the new plan, English learner students will have three class options:

* English Language Classrooms — For students with the lowest levels of English proficiency to be taught through sheltered English immersion. Instruction will be overwhelmingly in English with some primary language support.

* English Language Mainstream Classrooms — For students with better English-speaking skills who still perform poorly on standardized tests. All instruction will be in English.

* Spanish Bilingual Program — For students with approved waivers. Instruction will be in both English and Spanish.

The new program is expected to cost the district some $250,000 for instructional materials.

Board members said they were pleased with the plan, which was developed by district officials including administrators Edmund Lee and Wendell Chun, the Bilingual Advisory Committee and teachers.

“I’ve talked to some parents and some teachers and I think we can make this work,” said trustee Ricardo Cordova. “I think we did the best we could under the circumstances.”

District officials are curious as to how the public will respond to the options, particularly the waivers.

“There’s no telling how many (waivers) we’re going to get,” said Chun, who is associate superintendent for educational services.

That option allows parents to request waivers for their children, if they meet one of three requirements. The student must already know English, be older than 10, or have special physical, emotional or educational needs.

While a handful of parents attended the meeting, there was little public discussion on the topic.

“As someone who supported Prop. 227,” said Modesto resident David Geer, “I am very relieved that Modesto City Schools are doing something.”

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