Two groups of Latino parents marched outside a Sun Valley school Wednesday, one of them loudly chanting support for bilingual education and the other quietly backing teachers seeking the program’s end.
Gloria Soto, a parent who organized the group at Glenwood School that supports the anti-bilingual teachers, said, “The purpose of the march is to let the community and the district know that there has been so much slander regarding LEAD and the teachers at Glenwood.”
LEAD is Learning English Advocates Drive, a statewide teachers group organized by a Glenwood teacher who opposes teaching non-English-speaking students mainly in their native language.
Soto’s group carried bilingual signs that bore slogans such as “LEAD Loves All Children” and “Parents Support Sally Peterson,” LEAD’s founder.
“We know what’s going on at our school, and we know our students,” said Soto, a longtime parent at the elementary school. “Mrs. Peterson doesn’t want to abolish bilingual education. She wants reform.”
Soto said that many Spanish-speaking students are kept in bilingual classrooms long after they become fluent in English. As a result, she said, they enter junior high school far behind their English-speaking classmates.
Soon after Soto’s group of about 15 began walking, the second group of about 30 began demonstrating nearby. The second group, made up of parents from across the district, denounced LEAD and later argued with the Glenwood parents.
Latinos Parents Protest
The bilingual supporters also had demonstrated April 18 at Glenwood, when about 50 Latino parents from across Los Angeles protested LEAD’s attempts to abolish the school district’s bilingual education plan. Some of the parents who participated in last week’s protest turned up again Wednesday, carrying what appeared to be hastily written placards touting bilingual education.
LEAD “is against bilingual education because they cannot work with Spanish-language students,” said Francisco Gonzalez, a parent from 28th Street School in central Los Angeles. “Under the new master plan, bilingual education will go very well, but these LEAD parents oppose it.”
The master plan emphasizes putting bilingual teachers in every classroom with more than 10 students who are not fluent in English.
The 22,000 members of United Teachers-Los Angeles, the teachers’ union, are voting by mail on a LEAD proposal to reject a proposed $5,000 bonus for bilingual teachers. Teachers who are not bilingual, but who are teaching in a bilingual classroom, would be asked to learn Spanish.
The district and union officials argue that rejecting the bonus could bring the end of bilingual education in Los Angeles because bilingual teachers are much in demand and could seek higher wages elsewhere. Results of that vote will be known next month.
Peterson, a Glenwood kindergarten teacher, said the march “was a loving gesture . . . and I thought it was fabulous.”
She said LEAD, which draws financial support from conservative English-only groups, does not oppose bilingual education. LEAD supports teaching students in English with assistance from bilingual aides, she said.