Glendale News-Press

Saturday, March 14, 1998

No Change Here on Bilingual Education
Glendale Unified immigrants students will continue to be taught in Korean, Armenian, Tagalog and Spanish, despite state vote giving districts flexibility.

GLENDALE -- For the last 10 years, students in the Glendale Unified School District have studied in the languages their teachers thought best suited them.
     So Thursday's unanimous vote by the state Board of Education permitting districts to teach non-English-speaking students as they see fit virtually does not affect Glendale, Alice Petrossian, assistant superintendent of educational services, said Friday.
     Specifically, local districts will not have to petition the state Board of Education for a waiver if they want to scrap native-language instruction in favor of English-intensive methods.
     Glendale has not requested such a waiver for bilingual education in the last 10 years, Petrossian said.
     "No matter which program students are learning, the goal is to have every student be fluent in English," she said.
     Of Glendale's 29,907 students, 47% speak and or write a limited amount of English, Petrossian said.
     The bilingual education program in Glendale teaches classes either fully or in part in Korean, Armenian, Tagalog and Spanish, she said.
     The number of languages spoken by Glendale Unified students is 67.
     Glendale has never had to ask for a bilingual education waiver because the district's plan provided an education in which students transitioned into learning English while successfully learning geometry, physics and calculus, Petrossian said.
     Plus, it's already in the law, Bill Lucia, executive director of the state board, said Friday.
     "Under the law, people have the choice of local flexibility in bilingual education. There is no mandate to have primary-language instruction," Garcia said.
     However, a statewide vote in June on Proposition 227 could change that. The Unz Initiative would require most schoolchildren with limited English skills be taught predominantly in English.
     If that is passed, the law would supersede the board's decision giving districts flexibility, Garcia said.