Saturday, June 27, 1998
Prop. 227 Mandate Rouses Concern
SACRAMENTO -- Beleaguered educators say they need a road map to help teach children English in the shifting landscape created by Proposition 227, the initiative that would dismantle bilingual education.
``It's a very difficult task when you're walking in the wilderness without any guidance,'' Jackie Fox-Ruby of the California Federation of Teachers said Friday. ``You cannot just ask people to walk into a classroom 49 days from today . . . and expect a program to work,'' she said.
Proposition 227, which requires all children be taught in English, has thrown the world of many educators into chaos.
No guidelines, regulations, textbooks, classroom materials, curriculum or lesson plans exist on how to translate the initiative from the ballot box to the state's 9,000 public schools, educators say.
``There's tremendous confusion in the field and great apprehension at this time as to how we're going to deal with this,'' said Vicki Barber, president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association.
The state Board of Education began the arduous task Friday of replacing a 30-year-old program that teaches 1.4 million public schoolchildren in their native languages as a transition to English.
``All of us recognize the significance of what we're doing today and the impact it will have on children throughout California,'' said Robert Trigg, the board's vice president.
Proposition 227, approved June 2, would place limited-English speakers in a one-year immersion program. Parents can ask that their children be placed in bilingual classes, but only under limited conditions. The measure provides $50 million each year for 10 years of tutoring.
Representatives of the state's teachers, administrators and school boards urged the board to proceed with ``calm deliberation'' and avoid quickly writing new rules to replace ones repealed by 61 percent of the voters. Proposition 227 gives school districts 60 days to implement the policy.
``The danger is that we hastily design a program to implement a hastily and poorly designed initiative,'' said Davis Campbell, executive director of the California School Boards Association.
Many speakers asked for flexibility and a delay in implementing the measure. Synchronizing the school year with the fiscal year would give districts a July 1, 1999, deadline, several speakers said.
A lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure was filed in federal court the day after the primary. A hearing is scheduled for July 15 in San Francisco.