A Nogales school administrator testified yesterday that the state is doing nothing to help her district provide required, quality programs for limited-English students.
Analizabeth Doan, director of bilingual education in the Nogales Unified School District, said in a court hearing that the district is hampered by a lack of qualified teachers, classroom space and materials to fully implement programs that comply with state and federal regulations.
She said the state has provided no money or assistance.
Doan spoke for about three hours on the second day of a trial to determine whether the state is discriminating against limited-English students.
The 7-year-old class-action suit by Nogales parents is expected to wind up today in U.S.District Judge Alfredo Marquez’s chambers. It wants the court to order the state to provide more funding for bilingual programs.
Testing experts are set to testify about whether the state- mandated high school graduation test discriminates against limited- English students.
Although the Nogales district has the goal of making students literate in Spanish and English by graduation, the district has a hard time offering even the bare minimum – as most districts do throughout the state.
“We don’t have the programs in place to do that,” Doan said.
State law requires districts to offer one of three programs for limited-English students – bilingual education, English as a second language or individual education plans for schools with few limited- English students.
Teachers in bilingual education and English as a second language are required to have special licenses, called endorsements. Not all teachers have undergone the training.
The majority of Nogales students are classified as limited- English. More than 75 percent of new elementary pupils are limited- English, while about 70 percent of high schoolers are limited- English.
Nogales provides bilingual education in the elementary grades and English as a second language in middle and high schools, where the program is reserved mostly for newcomers, Doan said.
Nogales has lost between 40 and 60 qualified teachers in five years to other districts that recruit the teachers because of their training and offer them more money. The Nogales district pays teachers with endorsements $2,000 extra per year but still can’t keep them.
It currently lacks about 160 qualified teachers – more than half of its teaching staff, Doan said.
Up until this summer, the Nogales district required newly hired teachers to obtain endorsements within three years. It dropped the requirement because it put an extra burden on the teachers.
“Our pool will never be complete,” Doan said.
The only extra funding districts throughout the state receive is $150 per limited-English student. But that isn’t enough to cover all of the needs, Doan said.
Every year, Doan requests a budget of about $500,000 to $700,000, which she says is needed for a quality program. She receives $16,000.
“It’s a wish list every year,” Doan said.