Publisher: Diana C. Garcia
Current Graduate Student at The University of Texas at Brownsville
A Growing Population In Need of a Balanced Education System
At the current rate at which children are migrating from Mexico, and other areas of Latin America, it is imperative that changes occur within our Texas educational system. It is every educator’s goal/duty to educate all students, regardless of their color, ethnicity, economical status, or race. Yet, within our own systems, laws, and regulations there is a gap which needs to be filled. Report after report will show that immigrant students have failed academically to reach the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards for obtaining the required knowledge acceptable to this state through standardized assessments. Mexican immigrant students, since the origin of the Bilingual program in Texas, have endured many difficulties as they have tried, and continue to try to educate themselves in Texas public schools.
Senate Bill 121
Prior to The Bilingual Education and Training Act (S.B. 121) of 1973, immigrant students crossing borders into Texas trying to get into schools were treated as second class citizens or worse. This law became the turning point for schools and educators, as the no speaking “Spanish” rule no longer applied. The Texas Historical Association states that children were expected to pay penny fines or stand on black squares as a deterrent to speaking Spanish. The most important aspect of S.B. 121 was that all Texas public schools who had an enrollment of 20 children or more per grade level in a district were required by law to provide bilingual instruction. This law opened the door for all that would commence legally, academically, and objectively for immigrant students, and still serves as a point of position for the regulations required through state agencies to this day.
The Importance of Giving English Language Learners(ELL’s) an Opportunity to Succeed
Throughout the years, and since the implementation of the S.B. 121, many changes have occurred in the Texas Educational system. State and local agencies are still scrambling to answer the same questions they have been asking for decades. Why are students of Hispanic/Latin origin not being successful in state assessments? Why can we not close the learning gap? What changes need to be made to ensure English
language learners (ELL’S) are obtaining an acceptable education in accordance with state regulations? For a child coming from another country, second language acquisition is an essential factor for their continued academia. A language barrier disables a child in all academic areas, not just in Language Arts. It affects them psychologically, physically, and academically. If we, as a nation of culturally diverse immigrants, want to continue to sustain a land which up holds the ideology that all individuals can be educated, then we must find ways to help society understand the difficult situations these English language learners (ELL’S) endure. We must offer solutions, and educate those who seek change. What has happened in recent years to these students and the STAAR-EOC exam is unjust, and has had unprecedented effects on many Mexican immigrant children. It is critical to understand what is happening so that a transformation of theory and methodology may occur within the educational system. The flow of immigrants crossing borders has increased and will continue to increase. Will the state of Texas handle this crisis in due course?
Common Challenges Spanish Speakers Have Learning English
REV states, "While English is – supposedly – an easy language to learn (maybe), every native speaker of another language has his or her issues. Today we’re looking at the common mistakes that native Spanish speakers make when trying to learn English.
English learners, take a look – you might discover a mistake you didn’t even know you were making. ESOL teachers, bring this list with you to class. And everybody else, read over these mistakes and be a little understanding when your English-learning friend doesn’t get it quite right on the first try."
Solutions to help end this ongoing issue in our education system:
A LOOK AT IMMIGRANT YOUTH: PROSPECTS AND PROMISING PRACTICES by Ann Morse states the following:
- School-based community centers to support assimilation of immigrant families, through English as a Second Language (ESL), parent workshops, computer training, translations, and referrals.
- Newcomer programs that provide intensive language development and academic and cultural orientation.
- Collaborations between educators, religious, and medical personnel with religious and cultural leaders in the community to plan programs for immigrant families.
- A five-year high school plan for immigrant students arriving too late to complete requirements in four years, or who need additional English language training.
- Specialists to assist teachers, for example, in literacy, special education, and ESL.
- Team teaching between general and special educators and ESL teachers.
- Alternative certification programs for immigrants who were teachers in their countries of origin.
Major Historical Antecedents to
Texas Bilingual Legislation
TEXAS BILINGUAL EDUCATION LEGISLATION
1969 HB 103 Carlos Truan, et al The 61st. Texas Legislature passed the state's first bilingual education bill on May 22, 1969. Before doing so, lawmakers would have to repeal the "English Only" statute of 1918, which made it a misdemeanor for any teacher or administrator to use a language other than English in school or to prescribe textbooks not printed in the English language, except in high school foreign language classes. House Bill 103 began by acknowledging English as the primary language of instruction in school, but went on to emphasize "the fact that instruction in the earlier years which includes the use of language the child understands makes learning easier." Accordingly, the legislation allowed, but did not require, school district to provide bilingual instruction through Grade 6. TEA approval was required before a district could offer bilingual education in the secondary grades.
1971 HB 495 Truan Relating to bilingual instruction in the public schools. The proposed bill was held up in committee.
HB 1024 Truan Relating to bilingual instruction in the public schools. The bill was passed but did not become law. The State Board of Education passed the Revision of the Statewide Plan on Bilingual Education.
1973 HB 145 Truan Relating to bilingual education training institutes, bilingual instructional materials, and bilingual teachers salaries. This bill was laid on the table subject to call.
HB 146 Truan Relating to bilingual instruction in the public schools. This bill was held in subcommittee pending a hearing date.
SB 121 Brooks, et al Amending the Education Code to provide for establishment of bilingual education program content, method of instruction, allotment of the Foundation School Fund for operational expenses and transportation.
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Current Texas Education System Debate
LULAC, MALDEF File Federal Suit Over Texas English Language Learner Programs
Author states, “The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on the behalf of the League of United Latin-American Citizens, alleging the state of Texas isn’t doing enough to advance English language learner (ELL) students in public schools.
The lawsuit also names San Antonio-area school districts North East ISD and Southwest ISD as defendants and references continuing state education reports to show ELL students are not given as many opportunities as other students.
"One of them is the state’s own English Language Proficiency Assessment, and it shows where more than one out of every two English language learner children in grades 3-12 are not advancing at least one proficiency level from one year to the next,” said MALDEF attorney David Hinojosa.
Complaint Filed by LULAC, MALDEF against Texas Education Agency, other districts
Present State of ELL Students in Texas
30. Today, Texas public schools continue to experience rapid growth of ELL students. In the2004-05 school year, TEA reported a total enrollment of 4,400,644 public school students, of whom 684,007 (15.5%) were ELL students. In the latest data published, for the 2012-13 school year, TEA reported a total enrollment of 5,058,939 students, of whom 863,536 (17.1%) were ELL students— an increase of nearly 180,000 ELL students alone over the last eight school years. Today, ELL students comprise more than one out of every six public school students in Texas.
31. Latino students comprise approximately 90% of all ELL students in Texas.
32. In 2012-13, Southwest ISD reported an enrollment of 12,991 students, of whom 1,709(13.2%) were ELL students, a growth of over 400 ELL students over the last eight years.
33. In 2012-13, North East ISD reported an enrollment of 67,701, of whom 6,064 (9%) wereELL students, more than doubling the number of ELL students enrolled eight years ago.
Failure of Defendants’ Secondary Program for ELL Students
49. The ineffectiveness of the ESL pullout program is further compounded by the State’s relaxed ESL teacher certification process, which does not ensure that the teachers are trained and prepared to instruct appropriately and effectively ELL students.
50. Without a doubt, a qualified, well-trained teacher is an essential component of an appropriate language program under the EEOA.
51.Under state law, ESL teachers must be appropriately certified for ESL by the State Board for Educator Certification. Tex. Educ. Code § 29.061. \
52.To obtain ESL certification, teachers must hold a teaching certificate in the first instance. The State of Texas identifies three different ESL certifications in Tex. Admin. Code 233.7. Of relevance to this action is the “English as a Second Language Supplemental” certificate (“ESL Supplemental Certificate”). That certificate allows teachers to teach ESL at the same grade level and in the same content areas of the holder’s base certificate.Id.at 233.7(c).
53. To obtain an ESL Supplemental Certificate, applicants must pass a test administered by the State Board for Educator Certification. On information and belief, passing the ESL Supplemental Certificate exam requires little test preparation and no training or education related to the educational needs of ELL students and does not ensure that ESL teachers have the skills necessary to educate effectively and appropriately ELL students.
54. On information and belief, the bar set for obtaining the ESL Supplemental Certificate allows ill-prepared and underqualified ESL-certified teachers to enter the classrooms of ELL students and negatively impact their students’ acquisition of the English language.
Failure of Defendants’ Secondary Program for ELL Students
55. Defendant ISDs’ poor quality secondary language programs are compounded by TEA’s failures in the areas of monitoring and enforcement. The failings on both ends of the system are Case 6:14-cv-00138-MHS Document 130 Filed 06/10/14 Page 14 of 27 PageID #: 330515 of particular concern given the difficulties faced by ELL secondary students who continue to perform miserably on both English language proficiency tests and state standardized tests.
56.TELPAS. The Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) measures the English proficiency of ELL students in the State. TELPAS scores are reported at four levels of English proficiency: “beginning,” “intermediate,” “advanced” and “advanced high.” The State’s expectation is that ELL students will progress at least one proficiency level for each year of bilingual or ESL instruction. TELPAS scores are also used to inform program exit decisions for individual students.
57.TELPAS data for long-term ELL students, particularly, demonstrate that both statewide and in the defendant school districts, schools are failing to advance longitudinally the English proficiency of their ELL students. In Southwest ISD, a large percentage of ELL students who are reported to have attended U.S. schools for six or more years 2 did not progress even one proficiency level on the TELPAS from 2012 to 2013. According to the 2013 TELPAS Summary Reports, nearly two out of every five ELL students (38%) in grades three through twelve failed to progress at least one proficiency level.
58. The failure to gain English proficiency is apparent at the high school level in Southwest ISD. For example, 65% of tenth grade ELL students and 71% of twelfth grade ELL students who are reported to have attended U.S. schools for six or more years failed to progress at least one proficiency level from 2012 to 2013.
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