Orange County Register

Wednesday, July 15, 1998

227 Leaves Wiggle Room for Districts
EDUCATION: State regulations on the measure leave room for interpretation.
By JOHN GITTELSOHN, The Orange County Register

The state Board of Education took a page from an old Levi's ad campaign that called its baggy jeans "a loose interpretation of the original" when it issued regulations last week on implementing Proposition 227.

Prop. 227, approved by 61 percent of voters in June, said instruction for California's 1.4 million limited-English students should be overwhelmingly in English and not normally exceed one year of specialized immersion classes. But it left plenty of slack for local school districts to tailor their programs to the law as they see fit.

"These regulations preserve local and parental control of education, while also providing local school districts with maximum flexibility in adopting programs that best fit the unique needs of their community," said Bill Lucia, executive director of the state board.

Among the guidelines issued by the board:

  • The program should be in place for school terms that start after Aug. 2. For year-round schools that begin before Aug. 2, the program should be implemented at the beginning of the second semester or trimester.
  • English learners should be taught in a "structured English immersion classroom" and transferred to a "mainstream" classroom after acquiring "a reasonable level of English proficiency" as measured by state- or district-designated assessments.
  • Parents can place their children in a mainstream classroom at any time or re-enroll their children in an immersion classroom if the students have not achieved reasonable fluency.
  • Schools shall continue to provide services to English learners in kindergarten through 12th grade until they can demonstrate fluency comparable to average native speakers.
  • Parents of English learners must be provided descriptions of English immersion programs and alternative courses of study.
  • Parents can submit waivers to place their children in an alternative non-English immersion program after 30 school days and schools must respond to the request within 20 working days. Parents denied waiver requests can appeal to the state Board of Education.
  • Prop. 227's $50 million in annual funding for tutoring English learners shall be apportioned based on the number of limited-English students.