VCReporter.com, Issue of 3/16/06
Too bad Jill Stewart didn't look at the 2005 test data and only listened to "one school reformer" before she vilified over 50 school and county administrators and hundreds of teachers who only want to upgrade the current English language arts textbooks. So what are the facts? (3/2/06, Capitol Punishment, "The education wars") The achievement gap between students who speak English and those who don't (English learners) has grown consistently since the passage of Prop. 227.
Last year's third grade test scores dropped for almost all students but even more dramatically for English learners. The worst part is that the numbers of students scoring at the lowest levels of achievement in the third grade increased, and especially for English Learners. These third graders began their reading experience under the one-size-fits-all program currently mandated by the California State Board of Education designed for native English speakers. Students who speak the least English do not understand the lessons contained in the current and proposed new textbooks, voted on by the State Board of Education on March 9.
The request is to enhance the new books with specific instruction for students who need to learn English and how to read English at the same time. The recommendations before the state board from a broad group of educators do not even mention bilingual education. This debate is over English materials.
So why would Ms. Stewart use all the hot button words to scare the public and intimidate the State Board of Education members? Maybe because she is only a political commentator and not an educator? She should stick to politics and let the State Board of Education do the right thing for 1.6 million English learners who need books to accelerate their learning of English and prepare them to compete in a dynamic, diverse and global economy.
President, Californians Together
forgive this delayed posting. I just encountered this letter on the CABE web site. Regular readers will know that I try to keep taps on Jill Steward, the Ann Coulter of California.