Maderans press for adult English program

Crowd urges Madera Unified trustees to apply for state funds.

MADERA—Parents asked trustees of the Madera Unified School District on Tuesday night for classes to help the city’s adults learn English.

Dozens of residents urged the board to apply for money from the state Department of Education so the district can offer the Community Based English Tutoring Program.

“All of us are here to represent the need of parents to learn English. We want to learn English,” Andrea Perez said through an interpreter. “Please go and apply for this money. Our Spanish-speaking community that is growing should be educated in English so we can help our children.”

Parents also presented a petition with about 1,000 signatures of residents in favor of resurrecting the CBET program. A crowd that packed the school board meeting listened to the proceedings through a radio so interpreters could translate into Spanish.

The program, which was born with Proposition 227, offers free English lessons to adults. Prop. 227 eliminated bilingual education in the state’s public schools for students labeled Limited English Proficient.

The program aims to teach parents English so they can pass the lesson on to their children.

“They want to learn English. They want to help their children in school,” said Christina Esparza, a second-grade teacher in Madera Unified, who has many Spanish-speaking students in her class. “I encourage you to bring us the funds so we can educate our parents in English.”

Representatives from the Madera Coalition for Community Justice also pledged their support if the district offers the program.

About 500 school districts receive state funds for the program each year. Madera Unified earned $200,000 for the program in 1998 but has not applied for funds again since.

California Rural Legal Assistance, a law firm, estimates the school district could receive about $220,000 for next school year if it applied for the program.

“This is not just a program for [limited English proficient] students. This is a program for the entire district,” said Baldwin Moy, a law firm representative. “We are respectfully requesting the board schedule a special meeting so it can apply for this program.”

The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or 675-6805.

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