School Board Supports Bi-Literacy

LOS ANGELES (May 13, 2014) – The Los Angeles Board of Education today backed a bill under consideration by the California Legislature that would allow voters to permit school districts, county offices of education and parents to determine the best way to teach language to students.

Currently, instruction must take place primarily in English as a result of Proposition 227, a state ballot measure passed in 1998. This requirement applies largely to educating children for whom English is a second language; most speak Spanish. The new bill, known as SB 1174, seeks to change that.

Board Vice President Steve Zimmer, who sponsored the resolution said, “Every child comes to school with a rich and robust language. Our best research shows that approaches that honor and celebrate language, community and culture are the most successful. SB 1174 does just that. This is not only right, it is just. I am honored that the Board has stood with our students and their families in support of Senator Ricardo Lara and SB 1174.”
 
“In a district like LAUSD, where 27 percent of students are English Learners, I strongly support SB 1174,” said Board Member Mónica García, co-sponsor.  “We need to change every law that limits our teacher’s tool box and we must work together to ensure all students can read and write and make it to graduation.”  

Another co-sponsor, Board Member Bennett Kayser said, “I am delighted to join with state Senator Lara in broadening learning opportunities for our children. Our students need to prepare for a global economy. This bill helps give them the tools to compete and succeed.”

“In a district like LAUSD, where 27 percent of students are English Learners, I strongly support SB 1174,” said Board Member Mónica García. “We need to change every law that limits our teacher’s tool box and we must work together to ensure all students can read and write and make it to graduation.”  

State Senator Lara said in a recent statement that Proposition 227 no longer fits in today’s world, when the demand for more linguistically skilled workers is increasing. The intent of his California Ed.G.E. (Education for a Global Economy) Initiative “is about giving our students and state the educational and economic edge. Employers across all sections are increasingly citing the need for multilingual and multi-literate employees to conduct business.”

The School Board resolution pointed out that “normally, instructional methods are the purview of teacher training and research institutions where educators debate decisions about instruction through a process adjudicated by the State Board of Education.”

Moreover, the resolution cited a 2006 state evaluation that found the approach mandated by Proposition 227 does not reflect the current state of the art, evidence-based programs that develop students’ bi-literacy and bilingualism, which are most effective for long-term academic success and for closing the achievement gap.

While the state bill progresses through the legislative process, the Los Angeles School Board directed Superintendent John Deasy to communicate L.A. Unified’s support to the appropriate committees in Sacramento and, in particular, to members of the Los Angeles delegation.

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 Contact: Claudia Vizcarra (213) 241-4259


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