State Senator Guy W. Glodis plans a renewed push this year to advance his bill to overhaul bilingual education in the state.
The Worcester Democrat, whose district includes Shrewsbury, is chief sponsor of the legislation that would limit students to one year of bilingual education. Students completing that one year of bilingual education would have to be mainsteamed into English-speaking classes.
The bill would allow exceptions in cases where a student’s parents and teacher agree it would be in the child’s best interest to remain in bilingual education; in those instances, the student could remain in the program for one more year.
The legislation failed to gain much ground last year, but Glodis said that was because the Education Committee was preoccupied with special education reform. He said he was optimistic it would receive more consideration this year.
Glodis said the intent of the bill is to enhance the learning of bilingual students by mainstreaming them more quickly.
Noting that the average length of time in which students are in bilingual programs is three to five years, Glodis said, “That is totally unacceptable. I think there needs to be an emphasis to move these kids more quickly to mainstream English, where they will receive the true benefits of better education.”
“Many of these kids are almost segregated into lesser public school classes. They should be given the same rights and opportunities as mainstream students. Frequently, they are not,” Glodis said. “For example, most bilingual teachers are not even certified. These kids deserve the best education possible and will receive that quicker in mainstream English.”
According to Glodis, since California adopted a similar bill two years ago, the test scores of bilingual students have risen by 20 percent.
Glodis said he also plans to seek additional funding for high-growth communities when the legislature considers amending the formula for distributing state aid to local schools.
Locally, Glodis said he will advocate for Shrewsbury on several fronts. One is to seek $35,000 in state funds to pay for a traffic study along the Route 9 and Route 20 business corridors. The money was earmarked in last year’s transportation bond, but still needs to be appropriated by the legislature. He said he will also be helping the town secure state funds to carry out much-needed renovations to Shrewsbury’s junior high school. And he said he plans to look for funding in the state budget to support Shrewsbury Community Services, a nonprofit organization that helps battered women and families in distress.