Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How should SFUSD provide foreign-language education in Middle School?

I had coffee yesterday with two moms who have children in middle school. Like me, their children attended an elementary school that did not have foreign language enrichment, such as immersion, FLES, or bilingual. We all admitted that we did not pay much attention to this topic during our middle school tours, and our middle school choices did not involve foreign language considerations. They are frustrated with the middle school that their children are attending because it has an immersion-language pathway, BUT DOES NOT OFFER A LANGAUAGE ELECTIVE FOR GENERAL EDUCATION STUENTS. Their middle school has qualified foreign-language faculty, yet these teachers are not utilized to offer a foreign language elective to interested students. Discussions with the principal and staff have led nowhere.

Immersion-language instruction is a major consideration for the current K-8 feeder pattern proposal. The District has floated a few ideas, including the creation of a 7th period (at a cost of millions of dollars), so language instruction will impact all of us, even if only indirectly.

This got us thinking out loud, “Why do we need another period for immersion-language instruction, and who should have access to foreign language instruction?”

If students want to continue their foreign language instruction in middle school, then why isn’t it offered as an elective within the standard 6-period day? Students who elect to continue language-immersion instruction should be allowed to take this language elective in lieu of the standard menu of electives (i.e., in place of band, orchestra, drama, visual arts, etc.); in other words, students can have one or the other but not both (i.e., no district spending for a 7th period).

These moms further suggested that any middle school that offers an immersion pathway should offer an introductory elective in the same foreign language for general education students, like their children, who did not have access to foreign language instruction in K-5. Again, the introductory language classes would be offered as an elective in place of band, orchestra, drama, visual arts, etc. (i.e., no 7th period).

Maybe these are good ideas, maybe not. Maybe you have alternate suggestions. Community Forums to discuss the K-8 feeder pattern proposals begin tonight at Denman Middle School (starting at 5:30 PM). Come out and let your opinions be heard.

- Donna

44 comments:

  1. I suggest you explore the legality of excluding children from instructional opportunity.

    In elementary school one could argue that foreign language instruction doesn't cost any more because the foreign language is part of the regular classroom. There are no additional teachers. But in middle school it is an elective. That means is costs more to provide and the additional cost is not a result of a legal mandate like special education, for instance. Everyone bears a portion of the cost to the benefit of a few.

    I think there is a good case to be made that it is exclusionary and inequitable.

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  2. It is exclusionary, but not inequitable, to require a prerequisite of immersion in ES before you go into immersion in MS.

    But suppose Don is right. That would mean that a small all-immeersion citywide middle school would have to be open to GE students. I am OK with that too.

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  3. Donna was not suggesting immersion be made available to GE students. She said foreign language should be made available as an introductory elective. The problem with that is obvious: Not everyone at a school is going to be able to take the class given the supply/demand numbers.

    Immersion families want 7 periods so their kids won't be deprived of other electives in a 6 period day. But apparently it's OK with them if the GE population is deprived of taking other electives like foreign language.

    These pathway issues are the result of a lack of vision by SFUSD leaders. When they decided that immersion education would be made available in SFUSD they should have considered the long term ramifications of it and planned accordingly. They didn't even properly consider it in the short term when they adopted the next year's SAS.

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  4. Thanks Don.  Your interpretation is correct.  These moms aren't trying to get their kids into immersion programs.  These mom want their general Ed kids to have access to the foreign-language teachers who are already at their middle school.  They want a foreign language elective that is taught at an introductory level (like Spanish 1).  

    If you don't get the "immersion-language golden ticket" in the kindergarten lottery, then you are essentially blocked from foreign language instruction in SF public schools until high school.  There is no middle ground.  These moms are trying to find a middle ground within the structure of a 6-period day.

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  5. It was the Superintendent, not immersion families, who floated the idea of a 7th period.

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  6. What exactly is the exclusion from instructional opportunity that you are complaining of?

    It would be less inflammatory to say that there is a lack of funding for MS GE foreign languages, similar to lack of funding for arts, music, transportation, etc.

    If I support arts funding, do I get attacked as depriving funding for music? No, so there is no need to attack one group or another.

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  7. Don, I'm an immersion parent and I would love it if GE students had access to a language elective...in elementary school and middle school too. It is ridiculous to slam all of us based on a district policy that we had nothing to do with!

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  8. One of the biggest knocks on Americans is we absolutely suck at foreign languages. Sorry but it's true. We are trailing Europe, Japan, China, Korea, even Australians are better at it, even most Brazilians can speak Spanish. They make jokes about us, what do you call someone who can speak 2 languages, bilingual, one, American. I'm tired of being the butt of jokes.

    Children can learn a language better at 11 than at 14. We should teach every child a foreign language, even if we need a 1% SF sales tax, it's worth it. Half of it would be paid by tourists, commuters, and suburbanites who hang out here because suburbs are dull, so let's charge more tax and do this thing. It's embarassing, most Americans say they studied a language but can't really speak it. San Francisco always leads the nation, in gay rights, interrational marriage acceptance, no smoking in bars, anti-war, high tech., I'm scratching the surface, we're leaders, let's lead on this. Every child should start a foreign language in elementary school and master it by middle school, and we should add German and French to attract more middle class parents, and probably Hindi and Arabic as well, and Russian. Oh I heard that one!

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  9. Regarding Charlie's comment about lack of funding for art, music etc. While some schools may have programs that other schools don't have and though it is unfair to be forced via a feeder system into one such school, the fact is that some schools are required to offer remedial instruction as part of title or categorical funding, the end result of which is the loss of electives. But that hasn't evolved due to a lack of funding for the arts or music per se. However, providing electives on a discretionary basis to certain students is exclusionary when it isn't mandated. It requires that public dollars be allocated to specific class of students where there exists no legal requirement for such usage. It would be far more equitable to say that if you received language services in elementary school you should be prohibited from further language education to make way for others who have not had the opportunity. Instead, Immersion, bui-lingual and FLES parents (some anyway) want the district to devote millions from the general fund to provide electives from which only a small minority will benefit - their children.

    I realize that not all immersion parents are espousing exclusive services for their children, but to hold such a view is a bit disingenuous when it is perfectly clear that under the current level of funding there is no way we can offer language instruction to everyone unless we do away with other programs.

    That is the exclusionary practice I am speaking of. Charlie, you yourself said it was exclusionary at 9:52.

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  10. I'm not in the habit of receiving emails from the Superintendent, but when I asked him and the Board where the money would come from to have another period - this was his email response to me:

    "To clarify what I said, it went something like this-"we don't have enough
    money to do everything we want to do, but that shouldn't stop us from
    planning for the day we do indeed have the resources needed. The best time
    to strategize and plan is in times like these, so that if this is a
    priority and additional funds do come--(which sooner or later will) we
    will be ready". Currently we do not have the resources unless we eliminate
    something else so, if this becomes the priority we would indeed need to
    cut elsewhere, which would be tough, since we have already cut so much."


    Carlos A. Garcia
    Superintendent
    San Francisco Unified School District
    555 Franklin Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 241-6121

    Eliminating others programs that have already been cut to the bone doesn't sound like a great option to make language classes available to the few. If language pathway parents can convince the Superintendent that such programs for middle school are the priority, what will then become second fiddle, honors programs, band? It is all about money or the lack of it. In a perfect world, sure, 7 periods and language for all would be great. But the Superintendent knows this is not the case. You should, too.

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  11. If you recognize the 7th period as a red herring, a false issue, why do you keep bringing it up?

    The other issue, immersion programs at the middle school level as all, when those programs exclude students who were never in immersion during elementary school, is to you both exclusionary and unfair, while I think it is exclusionary and reasonable. It is reasonable to have prerequisites for advanced courses.

    It is a shame that GE foreign language classes are not funded. We should be able to support GE foreign language classes, or music, or art, or transportation, without blaming each other.

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  12. How can you say it is fair to have advanced courses if you've had the proper prerequisites when it is impossible for the majority to get the prerequisite of an immersion education?

    As far as the 7th period issue, that came from immersion community and it has gotten some consideration at the highest levels. So it is worth discussing.

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  13. Your position to me is clear that you do not support MS immersion.

    The 7th period is completely theoritical. The reality is that we are broke. And eventhough we are broke, immersion should be a high enough priority that immersion language programs should be funded in MS. You disagree.

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  14. Charlie,

    It isn't about supporting immersion in theory. I'm all for foreign language education throughout k-12. The question is this - how do you pay for it? Everything else is just talk.

    If we had the money and essential services to students were not to be cut, wonderful. But that's a pipe dream. Having foreign language in MS requires cutting something else. And schools are already cut to the bone.

    Why don't immersion parents propose dropping arts and music for their kids instead of asking for immersion and those electives in addition to it.

    In consideration of the Supe's email which I copied above, propose how you would pay for immersion? What programs should be cut to pay for foreign language for all? It's really all about money.

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  15. There is not enough money for multiple immersion programs at all middle schools, nor a 7th period. Either ease up on feeder patterns to let immersion students go to a MS with the program or create a small citywide all-immersion middle school.

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  16. I attended the Denman meeting tonight and immersion and language were brought up in the break out sessions.

    1. Not everyone who applies for immersion gets in.

    2. GE schools are required to provide ELD and will now have inclusion students in the same track. One way immersion teachers aren't required to dedicate 30 minutes a day to tutoring small group of ELD students while the rest of the students are occupied with self directed activities - which is what happens daily at my kids' school - Sunnyside.

    3. Fulfilling the requirements set forth by the Lau ruling and immersion are NOT THE SAME. If it were then SFUSD would have to provide immersion for non-English speakers in every single native language spoken in the district, from Farsi to Myanmar. ELA/ELD provide English language development to students.

    4. It is extremely doubtful that inclusion students will be placed within immersion tracks.

    5. If the new middle school feeders are approved, immersion elementary schools with city-wide attendance areas will automatically be placed in the most successful middle schools in the district based solely on language.

    The students in GE will only have access to the "big 4" weighted by elementary neighborhood preference and then the middle school feeder.

    6. Language electives should be available to GE students starting in 6th grade to fulfill SFUSD's goal of bilingual/multilingual education for all.

    Please be clear, I don't blame immersion parents. I praise immersion parents for dedication to their educational philosophy, as I praise the parents of Miraloma, Lakeshore, Sunnyside, Sheridan, and Longfellow for being thoughtful advocates for their children.

    If there was more "equity" between the middle schools in SFUSD, we wouldn't need to have this discussion. If immersion was well thought out before the program was offered to anyone, we GE families (83% of SFUSD students) wouldn't have this discussion.

    Then there is the larger issue of MONEY and TRANSPARENCY.

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  17. Some recommendations from tonight's meeting. Immersion only middle schools. Families would have a "built in" incentive to select the school based on the immersion track.

    A language option for GE students IF there really is enough money. California still has a high foreclosure rate, meaning less property tax to fund schools - don't start 7th period if the money isn't there. Offering a language as one of the 6th period elective selections is a viable option, at least the students would have the opportunity to try the language.

    Parents are realistic about monetary issues and want to see more financial transparency to create a more effective partnership with SFUSD.

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  18. "But apparently it's OK with them if the GE population is deprived of taking other electives like foreign language."

    That is simply wrong. I am an immersion parent, and every single other parent I talked to at my school, wants language development to be available for GE students, too. Maybe that makes me naive and polyannaish, but I truly believe that this does not have to be an either-or, with people fighting each other. It's amazing what we can do, when we truly work together rather than consider the other person the enemy who stands in the way of my wishes.

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  19. Julia,

    Do you understand just how bad the budget situation is? The Superintendent has stated that money is not there unless we prioritize services differently. That is why I ask what it is you propose we cut to so we can pay the $10-15 million per year for 7th period? These are hard choices, but they have to be made. While I appreciate the sentiment - saying that amazing things can get done if we all work together doesn't pay the bills. And unlike the prognostications that the budget shortfalls would improve after 2 years things only seem to be getting worse.

    What will you cut? A massive and costly expansion of middle school services is not in line with the reality of education funding in California at this time.

    Cathy, thank you for your notes and thoughts on the meeting. Regarding ELD, while schools get Economic Impact Aid - LEP funding on a targeted per student basis, no one is really watching at the district to see how those funds are spent. Hence, it is often being used to backfill WSF shortfalls.

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  20. There you go again on the 7th period.

    As for budget cuts, you are barking up the wrong tree. Address budget balancing to the administration. The role of the public, that's you and me regular folks, is on general policy. Even the Board's job is only general policy, and they spend a lot more time on these issues.

    General policy #1: create a small citywide all-immersion middle school to handle those immersion students who were not lucky enough to get a good assignment through the feeder pattern. One school. I leave the dollars and cents to 555 Franklin. This also means no special treatment in the feeder pattern. The immersion side is assigned to the same MS as the GE side. If that MS does not have language programs, try the new citywide immersion middle school.

    General Policy #2: Bend the rules on feeder patterns for immersion students so that they can get to a MS with language programs. This is a thornier issue. Immersion is an elective. If you make an exception for one elective, why not for others? Pretty soon you will have so many exceptions that you do not have a feeder pattern at all. I can appreciate a position that says no exceptions and I acknowlege that this does damage to the immersion program. At least that is honest.

    The feeder pattern does damage to all parental choice, over language, music, art, location, over the parent's power to decide for herself the best fit for one's child.

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  21. The whole reason immersion programs were created was to integrate schools. End of story. Yes, it's a nice idea to create language proficiency, but the District's main goal was to use immersion programs to get white and Asian parents into black and Latino schools.
    Starr King, the first Mandarin immersion program, was going to close the next year because so few parents were sending their kids there. Now there's a waiting list.
    So no, immersion isn't some fancy program the District created to cater to foofy parents. It was a carrot to get parents into schools where they weren't going otherwise after they lost the stick of forced busing.
    And it worked.
    We (the Mandarin immersion parents council) suggested an all-immersion middle school but were told it didn't meet the District's needs of integrating schools.
    Also, immersion was and always has been planned for nine years of instruction. You can't stop it after 5th grade or you basically have wasted everyone's time. Especially with Chinese, students simply haven't attained enough fluency with the written language to be able to stay stable in the language. So stopping at 5th grade is throwing out six years of work on the part of everyone.
    The issue here seems to be that people feel immersion students get something special that everyone else doesn't have access to - but in return many of those families went to schools that everyone else didn't want.
    But my real question is exactly how is it that immersion students cost more than non-immersion students? A class full of kids being taught by a teacher is a class full of kids being taught by a teacher. You have to hire a teacher to teach them, whether it's drama, band, Cantonese or Spanish. So why do we represent more money?

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  22. New to blog so bear with me, please.

    How to move discussion forward?

    All good points so far.

    What is the point of discussion without consideration of the needs of students?

    What is the point of discussion without consideration of the resources available to meet the needs.

    Current status - dis-alignment of needs and resources

    Charlie is for open-ended policy brainstorming. Don is for limiting talk to fiscal realities.

    Q.Community forums are for what purpose?

    A. Feedback for deciding policy for next year.

    Reality. Short term policy must comport with current and near-term budgets.

    Conclusion:

    Clarify purpose of discussion.

    1.For short term policy efforts

    or

    2. For long-term community goals and aspirations

    or

    3. Synthesis of short term and long term goals

    Winner 3

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  23. Cathy could you explain more the comment you made above: to wit --

    "GE schools are required to provide ELD and will now have inclusion students in the same track. One way immersion teachers aren't required to dedicate 30 minutes a day to tutoring small group of ELD students while the rest of the students are occupied with self directed activities - which is what happens daily at my kids' school - Sunnyside."

    Are you mixing up immersion and inclusion in that paragraph? Did the District folks say that now middle school GE programs would be putting ELD and Inclusion students in the same groups together, apart from the regular general ed kids? If that's so, then I, as a special ed parent, have a serious problem with it. Inclusion is supposed to mean real inclusion -- not putting kids with learning challenges in a room with kids who are learning English for the first time. The two groups could not be more different in terms of their needs. This is very disturbing. Is that what District folks told you?

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  24. Following on what MIP said, you wouldn't actually save money by getting rid of immersion programs. You'll have a few thousand students that you'll still have to educate and that will cost about the same amount of money.

    So, if saving money is the goal, and it should always be a consideration, then you should talk about net savings, which would be negligible in this case.

    If equity is the issue, then you should be very careful in comparing one program with another. Immersion, special ed, ELL and GE are very different programs. By itself, that doesn't make them unfair.

    BTW, I don't really have an opinion of the 7th period. From this discussion, it sounds pretty hypothetical.

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  25. I don't think it's accurate to categorize it as "unfair" that immersion students get language and GE kids don't in MS or say that it's unfair that GE kids didn't get language in K-5th grade.

    As someone said earlier immersion programs were placed at schools that other people did not want to go to in order to attract people there. Families who signed on for immersion often made certain tradeoffs for getting the language in elementary. Now it turns out they are getting more popular and hard to get into.

    But why wouldn't it be considered unfair that one child couldn't get into a popular school whose PTA raises tons of money and has high test scores and another child did not get in and had to go to a school they did not want?

    Some middle schools have honors, some don't. Some have 7 periods, some don't. Some have strong music or arts programs, some don't. There are inequities throughout this system. The gripes about immmersion vs non-immersion are out of whack.

    It seems strange to me that the offerings at middle schools vary so much. I feel they should be more standardized. And it does seem like foreign language should be offered as an elective to GE students particularly since parents want it.

    But really foreign language for GE students is a separate issue from supporting the immersion programs in middle school. Language immersion is a program that needs to be followed through or it becomes a waste to start it in the first place.

    Also I don't get point number 5 that Cathy made.

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  26. A comment in the original post that struck me as strange was the suggestion that at schools where there was a language immersion program the GE students deserve a foreign language offering as well.

    Why is it only at schools where there is an immersion program that those moms feel there should be a GE language option? If that's what's fair for their school why not middle schools with no immersion program?

    The point I'm trying to make is that advocating for a foreign language offering for GE students is a separate issue and should not have anything to do with whether or not an immersion program exists at that site.

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  27. Mandarin Immersion Parent said:

    "Also, immersion was and always has been planned for nine years of instruction."

    What specific plan are you referring to? If there is some such plan, SFUSD must have forgotten all about it when they adopted the SAS last March.

    Regarding your assertion that SFUSD created immersion schools to tackle the issue of integration - that sounds about right. SFUSD's primary driver of policy has not been education of its students, but integration of them - not that the two need be mutually exclusive. During the era of consent decree district enrollment policy was driven by court order. After 2008 the District was and remains largely free to create policy unhindered by the court for the time being.

    Retrospective analysis of regional consent decrees seems to paint a picture of limited success for one primary reason - the achievement gap has persisted throughout. As a result, legislatures are less inclined to allocate education dollars on transportation and districts are redrafting student assignment systems in line with financing.

    As for the cost issue MIP raised, language instruction in elementary does not cost any more than the additional cost of bilingual teachers, if they do cost more. Where it is a factor is at the middle school level. Foreign language programs can only be implemented at the social cost of replacing other programs or at the financial cost of adding to them through longer school days and/or additional specialized staff.

    This discussion is about middle school implementation.

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  28. Middle Schools with dual immersion and general Ed pathways already have qualified foreign-language faculty on staff. These middle schools would not need additional teachers to offer an introductory elective to GE students in the same target language, which is the situation described by the moms in the original post. This would not be the case at schools without an immersion pathway, hence the distinction.

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  29. Joseph, my understanding is that inclusion students will be in regular GE classrooms. English Language Development is different, in Elementary school ELD students are required to have 30 minutes of daily small group instruction with their teacher while the other students do self directed activities. I assume that inclusion students who are also English language learners will be eligible for ELD but the two are different.

    In middle school the two groups are in the GE track together and ELD students will use their elective period to take ELD and improve their English language skills.

    It will be interesting to see how paras are used, and what type of curriculum is most effective for such a diverse population. Maybe the kids will see more project based learning?

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  30. PS. I was providing clarification to WP. Thanks Don for your additional thoughts.

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  31. Ouch! So immersion was just window dressing to make more elementary schools look like they were integrated. Meanwhile the GE side and the immersion side never really mixed, but the ES as a whole looked better in terms of overconcentration of African Americans and Hispanics. Having served its purpose, immersion gets gutted at the MS level.

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  32. Hi Donna,

    Maybe the moms in the original post have a strong argument with that site's principal that a foreign language offering would be cheaper and easier to implement there than at a school where there is no immersion program in place. If I was in their place I might try to make that argument.

    I think it's a shame if it wasn't given much thought in the past and that funds are so short.

    But I don't think it is accurate to frame it as an issue of what's fair or not fair because immersion students have a language class and GE students don't. They were set up as totally separate programs. It creates negative feelings towards immersion students that are not warranted.

    And if you frame it as what's fair and not fair, then why would it be fair for this site's GE students to get a foreign language when GE students at other middle schools don't simply because an immersion program was not placed there?

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  33. Hi Don,

    What about the financial cost of starting a program with the purpose of having students achieve fluency in a second language and then abruptly deciding to end support of the program in the middle?

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  34. Hi Mandarin Immersion,

    Thanks for your comments. I think there is a place for variety in the school district and we have common ground on the target immersion middle school. My son and daughter attend a school that was chronically underinrolled - we only have one 5th grade class with 34 students, 48% socioeconomically disadvantaged and this is the first year the school lost Title I funding.

    I don't think anyone who goes to school on the southern slope of Potrero Hill is foofy. I am sharing the reality of issues GE parents share, at our school the PTA pays for a Reading Support specialist and leveled readers - things that are fundamental to closing the achievement gap. I would like to see the district focus on providing enough services to make sure all students who start school in Kindergarten are English proficient by 3rd grade, as is currently mandated.

    I don't know if immersion costs more. I do know that when your student graduates they will have a bilingual education along with all the core curriculum. If GE kids can't have access to another language until high school, the district won't fulfill one of the mail goals of this middle school feeder, the "Multilingual Policy".

    SFUSD wants to create quality middle schools and a strong partnership with all the parents, this is the time for creative solutions, if immersion folks understand GE issues, and vice versa, we may generate more fiscally responsible ideas.

    All parents have the right to know how money is being spent. As much as I would love to have 7th period available so GE and immersion kids can have art and language, how can there be any money available for 7th period when SFUSD sent out 500 pink slips today?

    One idea, create partnerships between immersion only and GE only elementary schools so we can understand how each program works and learn about the culture represented by the immersion school.

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  35. WP: While it wasn't the intent of the original post, the question that you just posed was asked many times at the Denman community forum on Tuesday night. It turns out that many public school parents are questioning foreign-langauge instruction opportunities in middle school for their GE children. These sentiments seem to be driven by (1) the District's suggestion to reintroduce the 7th period to accommodate immersion (perceived as a significant financial cost to the District for a small portion of student population), and (2) the Board's Multilingual Policy to "provide opportunity for every child to become bilingual and bicultural" (direct quote from the handouts).

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  36. And I can totally see that a 7th period may not make financial sense. Kids in immersion may have to forgo an elective because they get immersion. Life's tough these days, as I tell my kids more often then they want to hear.
    I do agree that it seems if you've got language teachers at a school, you could use them for everyone. I don't know how that works in middle school, does it require a different credential, etc.
    To Don, I don't know where the District put it in writing but every meeting we've ever had with the curriculum development people, they've said "This is a K-8 commitment at the least - you don't just drop in and check it out and then drop out again.
    "

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  37. I don't think the 7th period is going to happen. So this is just a theoretic question.

    But if there were money available for 7th period for everyone, why does that only benefit immersion students? When he suggested it, he said it would be for everyone.

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  38. For those of you exclaiming that you see no inequity in the language immersion programs, I submit this for your review. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/02/BAEV1I1GC3.DTL

    This is an article in today's Chronicle reporting that 500 SFUSD teachers will be receiving pink slips. Here's the deal. There is no "extra" money for middle school immersion in the SFUSD. There is no "extra" money for a seventh period so that those who happened to be fortunate with their lottery placement in immersion kindergarten can have their choice of music and art. Moreover, there is no "extra" money to allow those who were not fortunate enough to be able to access a language program to have the opportunity to receive language enrichment in K-5 or in middle school. Those are the facts, and they are not pretty.

    So, the district is trying to somehow equate the Lau plan, which mandates "language pathways" and apply that to all current immersion students. However, the Lau plan is directed at and for the benefit of ELL students. Lau is also mandated in the ELL population of the GE program. Lau is not about nor for native English speakers who think it would be cool for their children to learn a second language. Language pathways is a joke. What the district is really saying is that it's ok to gut the GE program and not provide adequate support to 83% of their population in the SFUSD while also cutting programs and increasing crowding to fund the 17% of the district that is in language programs. That's inequity. And, it's not fair.

    At the same time, the district is pushing for inclusion. I think most of us who've spent time thinking about this realize that most inclusion families will not be trying to obtain placements in immersion programs. So, disproportionately, the inclusion issues will also hit the GE programs and further weaken a student's ability to focus and learn.

    For some reason, the district has been pushing neighborhood schools, which is all well and good, and they had drawn "neighborhood" middle school feeders that are supposedly no longer relevant because of agitation by immersion parents who refuse to accept the budget constraints of the district and the state and be fair minded about what they are, in essence, asking the majority of students to give up.

    You might say I'm disgruntled, and you'd be right. I think after the awful lottery process where we chose only our neighborhoods schools and went 0/7, you'd feel similarly. Now we are being told that we will not be able to attend our local middle school because of the "language pathways" and the Lau plan. I call BS on this, and so should any of us in a similar situation.

    Basically, our kids are NOT receiving equivalent educations. One education will result in bilingualism, which is practically a necessity in today's world. It's a marketable commodity. However, what those of you who don't see this as been unfair are saying, in effect, is that you're ok with the fact that 17% of the student enrollment who are in immersion and bilingual education programs should 1) receive an extra elective period--at the cost of $5-6 million dollars (FYI, the operating budget of some GE elementary schools is $1 million) 2) dismantle the current high-performing GE middle schools schools so that immersion can be grouped together, and 3) being ok with the over 80% of students in GE that have no equal opportunity to access language education until high school.

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  39. Can we agree on these points?

    1. Immersion is not substantially more costly.

    2. Adding another period is substantially more costly.

    3. Universal access to foreign language is desirable.

    4. Under current economic conditions a 7th period requires painful cuts.

    5. All immersion schools would be a lower cost alternative to city wide immersion pathways.

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. Yes, that looks good.

    I'm still not sure where the idea of a 7th period came from. Of course, I would love to have it. More hours is a good thing and the shortage of school days and instruction hours is one of the major factors contributing to the decline in American education relative to the rest of the world. But in 2011 when teachers are being laid off across the nation, adding an additional period seems like developing a perpetual motion machine. It seems impossible.

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  42. Here's an excerpt from the Lau Plan

    6. Implement a Principal Support and Accountability Process to ensure that program pathways at sites are effectively implemented, supported, monitored, and evaluated to support EL students’ ability to make appropriate linguistic and academic prog¬ress. This process will be managed and supported by the Associate Superintendent of School Operations and Instructional Support, with assistance from Academics and Professional Devel¬opment. Within the process outlined in the San Francisco United Administrators collective San Francisco Unified School.

    Ya, Right!

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  43. Charlie,

    To address your concern that I am bringing up a 7th period needlessly, this was posted on the forum by XYZ:

    "I came away very concerned though that this entire feeder plan is being sold on the promise of a of a 7th period. But at the end of the forum, a parent asked directly what are the chances of the district really funding a 7th period (on a scale of one to ten?) The district staff person would not give a number, but it was clear that there is no source of funding. She mentioned that possibly parents could do some fund-raising, or grant-writing, or something. What???"

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  44. Do you bring up the 7th period to say that it is "pie in the sky?" If so, I welcome that comment.

    Do you bring up the 7th period to say that immersion programs are taking funds away from GE programs? If so, I say, wait, who is trying to sell the feeder plan on the pie in the sky scheme of a 7th period? Not me. I am not even pushing for immersion programs at all middle schools. There are too many MS's, too many languages, and too few dollars. I am even interested in relocating existing dollars spent on MS immersion on a single underenrolled MS that could use an expanded immersion magnet program.

    It has been said that when a school closes, it is the failure, not of the school or of its staff, but the failure of the school system to provide what they needed. I am saying, maybe, what the severely under-enrolled MS needs is a big dose of immersion.

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