Tuesday, July 7, 1998
School District Pushes Forward with Revamped Bilingual
Board will evaluate current policies and consider changes that
comply with Proposition 227.
By HUSEIN MASHNI
NEWPORT-MESA -- Local school officials are moving ahead with plans to
implement Proposition 227, even though its fate hangs in limbo.
At its July 14 meeting -- the day before
a San Francisco judge will hear arguments against implementing Proposition
227, which abolished bilingual education -- the Newport-Mesa school board
will revisit the bilingual debate, evaluating its current policies and
determining what changes should be made before September.
"We were working toward that goal anyway,"
said school board President Jim Ferryman. "We want to see how we can
prepare our teachers for any changes that need to be made."
Even before the June 2 election, when California
voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 227, the Newport-Mesa school board
revamped its bilingual programs to accelerate student transition from bilingual
to English classes. But the ballot measure's passage will force the district
to eliminate a primary-language-instruction component included in the revamped
Ferryman said the school district is increasing
the number of mentor teachers to help with the implementation of the new
program and help new teachers who will be hired to replace about 100 retiring
While other districts in the state are threatening
to ignore the initiative, county officials said Orange County school districts
are "making a good-faith effort" to comply with Proposition 227
while urging the state Board of Education to grant them leniency in implementing
"The main concern I'm hearing is that
districts want a little flexibility for kids who may need more than just
one year of English immersion," said Ronald Wenkart, general counsel
for the Orange County Department of Education. "All the districts
seem to feel a little overwhelmed by having to implement this huge change
Wenkart said the state board seems sympathetic
to the districts' request for leniency in implementing program changes
and could enact emergency regulations granting districts flexibility for
students who need more than a year of support in their primary language.
Barring a successful court challenge, the
provisions of Proposition 227 should be enacted by Aug. 1.