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Bilingual Teachers Largely Unaffected in Dallas Layoffs

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Dallas school superintendent Michael Hinojosa has protected almost all bilingual teachers from recent layoffs, according to the Dallas Morning News (via Colorin colorado).

Mr. Hinojosa explains in the article that students' needs required him to keep as many bilingual teachers as possible. It says he has had a role in beefing up bilingual education in Dallas by hiring more bilingual teachers. Keep in mind that bilingual education is required at the elementary school grades in Texas, if school districts enroll at least 20 English-language learners with the same native language at the same grade level. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Gilda Alvarez Evans, the district’s director of multi-language enrichment programs, said before Dr. Hinojosa's arrival, DISD professed to provide traditional bilingual education, but essentially offered “ESL [English as a second language] in costume,” with instruction essentially conducted in English.

I can see why it's hard for researchers to study these various kinds of educational methods, when what's occurring on the ground may be very different than what the name of a program implies.

And while we're talking about bilingual education in Texas, I'll refer you to an interesting Texas Politics blog entry picked up on this week over at Educational Equity, Politics & Policy in Texas. It claims Texas school districts aren't complying with the bilingual education law on the books because they don't provide bilingual education for ELLs who aren't Spanish-speaking. The blog entry says that 14,000 students in Texas speak Vietnamese, but they don't receive bilingual education--and it claims Vietnamese parents don't want bilingual education for their children.

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Actually, there are some bilingual programs in Texas for other languages, but staffing them and meeting NCLB "highly qualified" standards has been challenging because the State has been slow to provide certification testing for other languages, although friends and colleagues tell me some of the needed tests have now been developed and either are or may soon be available to be administered to qualified candidates.

This year I have had prospective new teachers for Urdu, Vietnamese and Chinese in undergraduate courses, but in the recent past, a lack of adequate funding to develop and re-develop appropriate language certification tests in various languages has delayed making everything match up---personnel, knowledge base, needs of students, support of parents, materials for instruction, administrative support....the same issues we had years ago (and still have at times) as we started developing all the aspects needed for high quality bilingual programs for Spanish speakers.

Of course, I don't believe that has anything to do with why the legislators you mention asked for the Attorney General's opinion. The fact that some school districts have not obeyed State Law owes more to the limited oversight that the State has exercised to ensure compliance with bilingual education laws during recent administrations than it has to do with the benefits of such programs for learners, which are well substantiated.

In Texas, bilingual education has a fairly healthy tradition and many supporters who are not easily "confused" by deep pockets with xenophobic motivations, who would like to destroy bilingual education and dilute ESL programs so as to force everyone to "immediately" master English (or drop out) in less time than it would take the proponents of "instant English" to learn to order food in a second language.

This is an attempt at an "end run" to destroy. limit or dilute services to all ELLs and it appears to me to have something in common with moves elsewhere to dilute the roles and funding for programs that attempt to meet ELL children's needs, before the palace guards are possibly replaced by individuals who may have a somewhat more informed and humane perspective.

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