350,000 students struggling with English in California

Written by

The debate over how best to provide a quality education to students learning English shows no signs of cooling down in California.

In the first review of its kind, the state has identified about 350,000 students who have attended California schools for seven years or more and who still cannot speak English fluently.

Among those students, about 90,000 are classified as “long-term English learners,” because they’ve failed to make year-to-year progress on English proficiency tests.

A new state law will direct extra resources to those “long-term learners” in an effort to improve their English skills.

But that’s not the end of the story…studenthandupSome educators and politicians say the number of “long-term learners” has soared in part because of Proposition 227, a 1998 ballot measure that put tight restrictions on bilingual education in California. A measure to repeal Prop. 227 will appear on the November, 2016 ballot. And the law may not even survive that long. A push is underway in the state Legislature to gut the measure before voters can weigh in two years from now.

The American Civil Liberties Union meanwhile, sued the state last year for failing to provide legally required services for students learning English.

Two years ago, the L.A. School District ended a federal civil rights probe by agreeing to revise the way it teaches students learning English. The District says it has about 35,000 students who have still haven’t reached grade level in English after five years of instruction.