Sunday, June 15, 2014

HISD’s New Literacy Plan Sabotages Bilingual Education

By LESLIE CONTRERAS SCHWARTZ

 

Not a single Spanish book was purchased for an essential reading program in an $8.5 million spending spree by Houston Independent School District for the district’s new literacy program, according to district bilingual education staff member who chose to remain anonymous.
Per state law, TEC Sec. 29.055, bilingual education program must provide “for learning basic skills in the primary language of the students enrolled in the program and for carefully structure and sequenced mastery of English language skills.”

According to Scholastic trainers, Superintendent Terry Grier pointedly chose not to buy any Spanish books for the K-3 bilingual reading program. To the contrary, all regular education classes (K-3) are getting new books and full classroom and school-wide leveled libraries.

A few hundred books were purchased for kindergarten and first grades in bilingual education, but none for an essential guided reading program. (Teachers use “leveled” books, or books according to a student’s reading level, to help advance their fluency and comprehension levels through a specific type of instruction called guided reading.)

State and federal laws require that appropriate resources are allocated to bilingual education to carry out the program effectively. Teachers and schools are advised by the district to use an outdated resource that is not aligned to STAAR, named TESOROS, for bilingual students, or to purchase their own materials.

Currently, there are 40,000 students in the bilingual education program in HISD, which accounts for 20 percent of the student population. Of the 104, 689 students in HISD’s elementary schools, half of these students are enrolled in bilingual education. The program’s goal is to ensure that students build literacy in Spanish, and transfer those skills to a solid understanding of English, written and verbal, by the time they exit the program.

Is this Grier’s not-so-subtle way of degrading bilingual education, by draining classrooms of much-needed resources? Without a wealth of available books for students to read, it won’t be possible for most of the bilingual students in HISD to become literate by the third grade, which is the supposed ultimate goal of the Literacy 3 Program.

Scholastic Resources Quick Reference-1 (The publisher documentation clearly shows minimal resources allocated to HISD’s bilingual education program.)
 

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