[ProgressiveEd] Mayor and Chancellor's Plans for Bilingual Education

[email protected] [email protected]
Mon, 12 May 2003 14:26:00 +0000

Dear Education Advocate--
The Mayor and Chancellor have yet to announce their "plans" for bilingual 
education, raising concerns about yet another education direction planned 
without public input.  Recent NYT and Daily News articles have reflected the 
concerns of bilingual educators about the future of second-language programs in 
the NYC public schools.  (The DN's article is attached.)
If you would like further information, please contact members of a bilingual 
advocacy group at:  [email protected].  
Carolyn Prager
Advocates for Public
Representation in Public Education
Fearing for bilingual ed 
Hispanics say program's at risk in revamped school system
Hispanic advocates say they fear Chancellor Joel Klein is secretly working to 
dismantle the city's bilingual program as part of his schools overhaul.
Klein, who was given a March 15 deadline by Mayor Bloomberg to come up with a 
reform blueprint, hasn't "made [up] his mind yet" on bilingual education, the 
mayor said yesterday.
"What we're trying to do, what he's trying to do, is to look at examples around 
the country where they have different kinds of approaches to deal with the fact 
that not all of our students speak English," Bloomberg said.
But advocacy group members who have met with Klein's deputy Diana Lam fear he 
plans to scrap many of the city's bilingual programs - where students are 
taught in English and their native languages - and replace them with more 
English-only programs.
"We are concerned because while Deputy Lam says she is a proponent of dual 
language programs ... the solution most students will get is a few periods of 
English instruction a day," said Shelley Rappaport, a policy analyst with the 
Hispanic Federation in Manhattan.
Rappaport said Lam has told advocates the city's English as a Second Language 
program was more effective than the bilingual programs, according to a recent 
department study.
Sink or swim
In ESL programs, students get a period or two of English instruction but spend 
the rest of the school day in regular classrooms. Some advocates call this a 
sink-or-swim approach.
"In the last two years, under Mayors [Rudy] Giuliani and Bloomberg, the New 
York City Department of Education has overseen a dramatic shift of children 
from bilingual classes to ESL classes, and a failure to hire an adequate number 
of certified bilingual and ESL teachers," said Luis Reyes, an assistant 
professor at Hunter College.
He and other advocates noted that the city is required to provide certain kinds 
of bilingual instruction as a result of court decisions.
David Chai, an Education Department spokesman, said Lam was a vigorous advocate 
of dual language instruction but that no decision had been made. 
Originally published on May 9, 2003