Students to learn English in English

The Jurupa district's bilingual education plan does allow teachers to preview and review lessons in Spanish for those who speak little English.

Jurupa teachers have begun packing away their Spanish textbooks and preparing to teach English learners in English with English books.

The district’s new bilingual education plan calls for teachers to speak English during all lessons and primarily use English textbooks and materials. They may use Spanish to preview and review lessons for students who speak little English.

Jurupa Unified School District trustees approved the plan this week to comply with Prop. 227, a statewide measure passed by voters this year that restricts bilingual education.

“I’m pretty pleased with it,” said Mira Loma Middle School Principal Diana Asseier, who served on the committee that designed the new plan. “I think what we are doing is truly following the intent of the law. “

With one week left before students return to school, principals are busy rounding up new English textbooks and familiarizing teachers with the plan.

The biggest change for elementary teachers will be using English rather than Spanish to teach reading in the primary grades.

Bilingual aides will simply reduce the amount of Spanish they speak and use more English.

Although Spanish textbooks will be shelved, teachers will be allowed to keep libraries of Spanish books in their classrooms. The district will give small grants to help bilingual teachers buy English materials for their classrooms, such as calendars and bulletin board decorations.

Laz Barreiro, principal of Troth Street Elementary School, said teachers are happy to have concrete parameters. Barreiro, who also helped compose the new program, said teachers relaxed when they saw they would have flexibility to use Spanish in the classroom when needed.

“It’s not about who won or who lost now,” he said. “It’s about what’s good for the kids. “

The district will continue offering traditional bilingual classes if parents want their children to receive more instruction in Spanish. But district officials are not sure how many classes will be offered or at what schools because families must wait until their child has been in the district’s “structured immersion” class for 30 days before requesting a waiver.

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