Feds Wonder Why LAUSD Students Can't Do Anything In Proper English

As I write this post, I am cautiously optimistic that at least one major aspect of fraud and malfeasance at LAUSD might finally be addressed by the Civil Rights Office of the federal Department of Education. After Secretary of Education and President Obama made speeches and appearances on how existing civil rights laws would be used to gain compliance from districts like LAUSD that have little concrete results to show in dealing with their predominantly Latino and African American population, I didn't expect that they would move so fast.

Today, KPCC's Adolpho Guzman Lopez reports that the Civil Rights Office has started an active investigation of why LAUSD has so little to show for its efforts to deal with English Language Learners (ELL) that make up approximately 32% of LAUSD's student population. In addition, there are significant numbers of other LAUSD students, who although native born, have no better language and math skills than the ELL population that the Civil Rights Office is primarily interested in at this time.

The Civil Rights Office is going to look at:
1. How LAUSD identifies its ELL population;
2. How English proficiency is determined;
3. The training of teachers who teach ELL students.

Mr. Guzman Lopez of KPCC points out in his report that LAUSD has hired 24,000 teachers to concentrate on dealing with ELL students deficiencies. I find this hard to believe for the following reason: according to LAUSD's own website, there are only 33,214 total full-time teachers total in the District. If qualified to teach ELL means having passed the CLAD or BCLAD assessment, then as a matter of reality, I would question the majority of these teachers being able to effectively teach ELL students by having sat through several seminar days and then being considered competent to teach ELL students, which is a highly specialized set of skills that take years to acquire and be effective in using. I taught for 7 years in a bilingual education environment in France and based on that experience, I actually found many practices that were touted by the CLAD examination to be incorrect in addressing an ELL population of students. Rather, the CLAD approach seemed more the approach that a school of education might posit as opposed to the methodology that one sees throughout Europe and Asia in addressing ELL students with greater success.

Guzman-Lopez also points out that less that 1/5 of ELL students have been reassigned to regular classes during the last few years. This fact would be consistent with the fact that
single-subject credentialed secondary school teachers for the most part still do not have the skill set to address either ELL students or the math deficits most of these students also suffer from, since they really don't have the appropriate training to do so or the political will within the District to tell the truth as to where these students are really at academically. Those that try to do this will find the full wrath of the LAUSD brought down on them, where they will suffer a similar fate to mine of being put on administrative leave with the likelihood of LAUSD moving for their removal from teaching altogether.

In response to the present action taken by the Civil Rights office of the Department of Education, Superintendent Ramon Cortines has said, "This action by the Department of Education could shed light on how the District could best address the needs of ELL students." Furthermore, he suggests that this would allow LAUSD to "target wrong doing if the investigation finds it." When I first found these fraudulent practices in dealing with ELL students and others, one of the first people I reported it to was Ramon Cortines' Chief of Staff Jim Morris, who told me he had turned the matter over to the Office of the Inspector General, who I had already reported it to. After 8 months, Cortines, Morris, LAUSD OIG, WASC, L.A. Times, California Department of Education, and the State Attorney General have done nothing to address the systematic failing of ELL students because LAUSD is more concerned with collecting Average Daily Attendance money from the State of California to maintain jobs than it is to rationally address the subjective needs of these students. Hopefully, the Civil Rights Office of the Department of Education will have more success in getting these folks attention than I have. I guess the reason I went into education in the first place is that I am an incorrigible optimist.


Flickr: Russ Beinder


03 2010

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