Students Struggling with English Not Getting Help, Report Says

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2013

More than 20,000 California students struggling with English are not receiving any legally required services to help them, setting them up for academic failure, according to a recent report by two civil rights organizations.

The study compiled 2010-2011 state data showing that students of all ages in 261 state school districts were receiving no specialized support to help them acquire English, as required under both state and federal law.

The districts with the largest number of students receiving no aid included Los Angeles Unified with 4,150, Compton Unified with 1,697 and Salinas Union High with 1,618, according to the report by the American Civil Liberties Union of California and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Students who have been designated “English learners” make up one-quarter of all California public school students; 85% are U.S.-born. Continued failure to teach them English—they are among the lowest-performing groups of students—will leave them further behind and jeopardize California’s future, the report said.

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But state education officials said that 98% of the state’s 1.4 million English learners were receiving services and that recent court decisions had found that the California Department of Education was fulfilling its legal obligations to monitor help for them.

“Despite the enormous financial strains of recent years, California has made dramatic progress in seeing that all English learners receive appropriate instruction and services,” state education official Karen Cadiero-Kaplan said in a statement. She added that any parents with concerns should contact their school district.

Jessica Price, an ACLU attorney, said some parents opt out of specialized programs for their children but that the law still requires districts to provide aid until the students are no longer classified as English learners. {snip}

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