Program to give English learners a lift

EDUCATING PARENTS: School district to send teacher, materials to labs

The Ventura Unified School District begins a program next month to help its 2,000 students with limited English skills improve their English and academics.

LIFT, or Learning is Fun Together, approaches the situation from a new angle — education for parents.

The program will take the resources to those who need it most, sending a teacher, van and materials to sites in Ventura and Oak View, program coordinator Judy Perkins said.

Afternoon sessions will focus on training parents and others to tutor kids. Parents and children can work together on English or other homework in a lab setting.

Evening sessions will concentrate on teaching parents English and “how the school system works, how to call the teacher, set up a conference and about the curriculum and its contents,” Perkins said.

Funding for LIFT comes from a $70,000 grant the district received from the state’s $50 million Proposition 227 allocation.

“The main thing we’re looking to do is, first, to fulfill the intent of the legislation, to increase the general level of knowledge of the English language in the community,” Perkins said. “Also we want to support the community and the elementary schools in particular, facilitating communication between schools and parents.”

Improving communication showed up high on the list of concerns on a February survey Perkins conducted of parents and educators.

The teacher and van most likely will visit the locations weekly. Oak View Elementary School is on the list of sites, and plans are firming up for regular visits to E.P. Foster, Saticoy and Sheridan Way schools, Perkins said.

Oak View Principal Larry Hardesty is grateful for the program’s help. His school has 385 students, and about 50 of them are classified as English language learners. He says the district has done all it can do to help the students during school hours. He hopes parents will take advantage of LIFT so they can better support their children’s learning out of school.

LIFT will start full-force after Labor Day, Perkins said. Schedules and locations will be available by calling 641-5200.

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