SRC Testimony, 6/15/17
Dr. Cheri Micheau
We have had two pieces of good news for ELs. The SDP has budgeted additional funds for bilingual counseling assistants and ESOL teachers. Also, in response to a complaint that Title III funds were not being spent, the SDP has agreed to offer some Title III-funded after-school programs starting in Fall 2017. Celebrate!
What are some other issues that remain?
1.At the May 18 SRC meeting, speakers requested training of school staff on five immigration-related issues. While a planning meeting is tentatively scheduled, no firm date has been set for summer training, and it has been difficult to identify the person or office that schedules such training.
2. There appears to be little formal effort to plan for and staff the “three-year” newcomer program proposed for Franklin Learning Center. Apparently only one new content-area teacher has been hired, an insufficient number of ESOL teachers will be deployed, and most FLC teachers are not participating in training for sheltered teachers. Will this program be a three-year program in name only? What is the program’s design? What are its goals?
3. Another issue addressed this year was newcomer students’ graduating from Philadelphia schools very quickly, having acquired very little English. I wonder if it is possible to slow down their progress toward graduation, so that when they leave school and enter college, they will not spend years in remedial, rather than credit-bearing, courses. For example, is it possible to formalize a work-study program for these students that would allow them to continue with a.m. English classes in a final year, while also leaving school for p.m. work? Or, since many ELs attend CCP, could the SDP partner with CCP to offer some kind of “capstone” language courses to provide more solid language skills to prepare students for college or the workplace?
4. SLIFEs—-students with limited or interrupted formal education—-were the topic of yet another SRC presentation. Apparently there is no effort underway to design a program to help these students fill their educational gaps. This is an urgent need in every high school with large numbers of ELs and, in fact, in nearly every school, K-12, with a large EL population.
5. Even with some new after-school programs in fall, much Title III money still goes unspent each year, and so more programs for ELs and their teachers could be financed. But, also, I learned that the multilingual office does not have access to the Title III budget, so that they do not know how much money remains in any fiscal year. They do not receive quarterly or semi-annual updates. This was a stunning piece of information. How can any office efficiently plan without this information?
6. Finally, in each of my testimonies, I have emphasized the lack of engagement by the multilingual office leadership. As demonstrated by the list I have just presented, there are many projects yet to be undertaken…projects in search of real leaders who want to serve ELs.