SANTA ANA – School-board members sharply divided over Proposition 227 came to a compromise and approved a policy on how the district will implement the state’s English-immersion initiative.
Trustees tweaked sentences. Deleted clauses and words. Sifted through the many shades of meaning underlying the district’s written policy for Prop. 227.
A major point of contention was a suggested requirement to have one-on-one conferences with parents.
“We don’t need to burden teachers to meet with every parent,” said trustee Rosie Avila. “We need to work on implementing the initiative.”
Prop. 227 proponents argue that the conferences are an effort to sway parents to ask for waivers exempting students from English-immersion classes after 30 days.
District officials say conferences are common when evaluating students’ language skills. They say they’re moving with caution because students’ learning and parental choice are at stake. Trustees agreed to set a board-approved parent-conference format designed to protect students from any administrative bias.
“We need a uniform presentation designed by the district. One not influenced by a principal or a teacher,” said board President Nativo Lopez. “It’s my concern that non-English-speaking parents have not historically and not sufficiently been served. We have to do more to engage them in the instructional system.”
Beyond the district’s concerns for parental rights, questions about books, materials and training of nonbilingual teachers are still looming as Sept. 1 – the starting date for year-round schools to put students in English immersion classes for at least 30 days – draws closer.
“We have a gun held to our heads forcing us to start, but there are no solid guidelines,” said trustee Audrey Yamagata-Noji. “There are still too many question marks.”