Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Governor fails English Language Learners

In as yet another example of how our governor is out of touch with the people of California, Swartzeneggar vetoed the bill that would have provided teachers with essential tools to help English Learners (EL) reach high academic and English language standards. The achievement gap for EL students is of deep concern to educators and community members up and down the state, but Swartzeneggar doesn’t seem to care.
There is a long-standing Supreme Court case, Lau v. Nichols, stipulating that when EL students are provided with the same materials used with native-speakers of English, they are… “effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.” Nowhere in the vetoed bill is there any reference to separate classes for EL students, making Swartzeneggar’s charge of segregation disingenuous, at the very least. In fact, both Lau v. Nichols and the proposed bill were about meaningful integration of EL students into the academic curriculum.
Swartzeneggar had the privilege of learning English after long-term formal schooling in his native language (the best predictor of success in learning a second language). It is a shame that he cannot relate to the millions of EL students in California, their families, their teachers, and their communities, who would like to ensure EL students’ academic success and full democratic participation.
Prof. Nadeen Ruiz.
Chair, Bilingual/Multicultural Education
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