Important EL Bills Moving Through Legislature

May 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Advocacy, News
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Jeff Frost

By JEFF FROST

—2014 is proving to be a very interesting year. After the dramatic shift in how California funds school districts, with an emphasis on providing more services to students who are poor and English language learners, the legislature is now focusing on creating more targeted options for those students.

CATESOL is actively supporting two bills related to English language learners that will lead directly to improved and enhanced services for EL students. These bills are outlined below:

SB 1174 (Lara) will place a measure on the statewide ballot that would repeal the current English-only statutes approved in 1998 in Proposition 227. Prop 227 required all students in California to be taught in English and to be placed in English language classrooms. The initiative required that EL students be educated through sheltered English immersion during temporary transition periods not to exceed one year. The initiative did also provide for classes in languages other than English under parent-initiated waivers. SB 1174, called the “California Education for a Global Economy Initiative,” modifies the provisions of Prop 227 as follows:

  1. Finds that all parents are eager to have their children master the English language and obtain a high level education;
  2. Finds that the new local control funding formula reforms direct increased funding to improving English language acquisition and provide the opportunity for parent choice;
  3. Authorizes school districts to determine the best language instruction methods and language acquisition programs to implement;
  4. Requires that non-English language be at the discretion of the parents, community and school;
  5. Defines duel and tri-immersion programs as programs that teach a portion of the day in English and a portion of the day in another language; and
  6. Deletes language in the law requiring that all children be taught in English, placed in English classrooms and, if an English learner, be taught in a sheltered English immersion.

The goal of the bill is to redirect California’s education system to focus on globalization and preparing our students to succeed in a multilingual world. Interestingly, there was no opposition to the bill when it was heard in the Senate Education Committee and the bill passed out on a unanimous vote of 7-0. Should the bill pass the legislature and be signed into law by the governor, a measure would be placed on the November 2016 statewide ballot repealing Prop 227 and replacing it with the statutory content of SB 1174.

CATESOL is also supporting AB 1892 (Bocanegra). This bill would provide two additional years of supplemental and concentration grant funding for EL students after they have been reclassified. Under current local control funding formula (LCFF) funding requirements, once an EL student has been reclassified the funding add-on would be eliminated unless that student also qualifies by being a participant of the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Because a significant number of EL students are not also receiving free-reduced lunch, this bill is very important to maintaining the funding continuity for the EL students as they transition to more difficult academic course work.

AB 1892 passed the Assembly Education Committee early in May with a unanimous and bipartisan vote. The next stop for both of these bills is the appropriations committees of their respective houses.

CATESOL will continue to support these bills and keep the membership informed as they proceed.

Jeff Frost is CATESOL’s legislative advocate.

 

 

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