Public schools in California would receive significantly more money to educate students from disadvantaged backgrounds under a deal announced on Tuesday that would dramatically reshape public school funding in the nation’s most populous state, Reuters reports. The deal, part of a broader agreement on the state’s budget, also gives local school districts more control over how they spend the $55.3 billion that the state expects to allocate for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The deal comes as California, which has the ninth largest economy in the world, is experiencing its first budget surplus in years. All told, the state will spend $96.3 billion next year, and set up a rainy day fund of about $1.1 billion……Read More
About 20,000 students in California who need to learn English aren’t getting adequate language instruction, according to a lawsuit against the state and education workers filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Associated Press reports. Under state and federal law, schools are required to teach non-English speakers the language, but by its own records, the state isn’t offering English instruction to nearly 20,000 students. The suit alleges that lack of instruction has meant some children had to be held back a grade or live with low proficiency scores because of a language barrier. The ACLU brought the issue to the attention of the state with a letter in January, and officials say they’re working to ensure compliance at the local level……Read More
Roberto Bautista was lost when he entered kindergarten speaking only Spanish, the Associated Press reports.
“I said, ‘What are they saying?’ I just pretend I understand,” said the 9-year-old Los Angeles fifth grader. “My best friend knew how to speak English. He helped me.”
Roberto’s experience is typical for Spanish-speakers entering California schools. They usually get assigned to a program where the teacher must speak English almost exclusively even though kids don’t understand. Roberto has since moved on to a special bilingual program that teaches him in both Spanish and English, but the vast majority of pupils stay in an English-only program, often falling behind in academics as they learn the language then struggle to catch up. Many don’t. California has the largest Hispanic student population in the nation but ranks at the bottom for Hispanic reading and math achievement. Only 11 percent of the state’s 1.6 million English learners—the vast majority of them Spanish speakers—reached proficiency levels in English in the last school year. About a third drop out of school……Read More