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.


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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  • Eagle_Eyed

    It’s amazing. In places where the kids grow up speaking English at home these costly problems are non-existent.

  • jay11

    Perhaps there’s just not enough money to address this issue – and the gazillion other welfare costs added by unrestricted immigration of illiterate mountain villagers and slum dwellers.
    Just today I was sitting with my colleagues in a meeting sitting around discussing the ‘academic needs’ of about 20 of our worst performing students. There we were: five white teachers and one black teacher, trying to figure out why our latino students were so far behind in credits, failing the state exit exams and generally not ‘performing.’ It became something of a broken record for each kid: not trying hard enough, low retention rate of knowledge of any kind, too distracted, unable to focus, unable to process language, poor native language skills too, lack of formal schooling in their home country, family problems – you get the picture.
    As I surveyed the room and saw six very smart, educated people trying to figure out why little jose and miranda were doing so poorly, the thought hit me that if we didn’t have these growing burdens imposed on us by the powers that be, what wonderous things could our nation have achieved in the last 20 years? Mars? A cure of cancer? Who knows? Instead, we spend trillions educating illegal foreigners and their unassimilating, low IQ children.

    • ed91

      not to mention how easy it is to teach yourself english or spanish or any language in the age of computers……… you have to work at it but there are thousands of avenues of language study via computer………. not to mention tv, books, etc
      there comes a point and it should come much earlier in our country—— where children either need to buy into their education and work at it, or be left behind.

    • How does anyone in favor of amnesty expect that there’ll be money to offer AP phyics and calculus in high school, when all the money has to be spent to teach Nacho, Lupita and Rosario remedial math and English?

      This is how to sell the issue to the American public. At at time when we’re being told that we don’t have enough money for the needs of our own citizens, where’s the justice giving away the family grocery allowance to a pack of home invaders?

    • Daisy

      Of course this failure is attributed to whites’ racism, xenophobia or some such. I learned both French and Spanish because I went to a ghetto highschool, where taking a semi-structured ‘academic’ class versus a war zone-like elective one like shop, etc., was the safer bet to avoid violence. To this day minorities, especially hispanics, assume I learned to speak Spanish almost fluently because they assume I come from privelege. There are lots of ways to learn a language these days; the hispanics in these communities are willfully perpetuating their own ignorance.

      • pcmustgo

        SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH OF LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE IS SELF-TAUGHT… 80% or more of what I know I taught myself by reading articles and books, often for free online or used or found in garbage cans or on the curb outside.

  • bigone4u

    Had a girlfriend who taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in the San Antonio school system. All her pupils were Hispanic, born and raised in the USA, but who could not read, write, or speak English. They were 7th graders.
    In the middle of the semester a Chinese boy fresh off the boat enrolled in her class. Within four weeks he had mastered the work that her other pupils could not. He left them in his dust. Not surprisingly, she was frustrated and privately mocked Hispanics. I think there may be a lesson here, namely that some people have little ability to learn and that throwing money in a black hole and talking platitudes does nothing of consequence.

    • WmarkW

      Asians in the US are going to leave whites in the dust, because they’re not burdened with a filter between eyes and brain.

      • Whites who have learned not to be guilt-tripped by all the leftist shi’ite will do fine.

    • The__Bobster

      What bothers me is that such teachers get paid more to teach in a foreign language.

      • bigone4u

        My ex must have had a crystal ball. She majored in spanish, which seems to be a handy language to know in order to communicate with our friends from south of the border.

    • Luca

      Knew a girl how came over from Thailand when she was seven and didn’t know a word of English. She went to LA schools and they stuck her in the ESL class with all the Mexicans. She graduated with honors and became tri-lingual, English, Spanish and Thai while her old classmates dropped out to smoke weed, mow lawns, clean motels and make babies..

  • Luca

    Very soon now some liberal, social-engineering politician will pull some statistics from thin air proving this problem could be solved easier, faster, cheaper and it would be “more inclusive” if Whites would just learn Spanish.

    • The__Bobster

      Thirty years ago, in the cane-cutter town of West New York, N.J., the brown stubbies demanded that I do just that.

    • Simonetta

      Whenever someone points out to me that I would a more diversially-actualized person if I were to learn Spanish, I always ask them in German:

      Was haben die Hispanoamerikaner überhaupt vollendet, das es wert das Problem des
      Lernens ihrer Sprache macht?
      (What have the Hispanics ever accomplished
      that makes it worth the trouble of learning their language?)

      Personally, I think that all the Hispanics should learn French. France is halfway between English and Spain and the French language is halfway between Spanish and English.
      Plus every Anglo college graduate thinks that a Mexican who speaks French is a cool dude who grew up in Mexico, and a Mexican that speaks only Spanish is a wetback.

      • MarcusTrajanus

        I actually understood most of that without the translation. (Yo entendi la mayoria de eso sin leer la traduccion.) There is plenty of great Hispanic literature, Borjes alone makes it worth it to learn Spanish, in my opinion.

    • I’ll learn Spanish if they first learn German.

      • MarcusTrajanus

        I’d love to learn German, I can already understand most of it, though I don’t speak it yet.

        • And German can be used as a stepping-stone to Dutch and any of the Scandanavian languages.

          • Michael_C_Scott

            Dutch, Flemish and Frisian are halfway between English and Hochdeutsch. We once had a Dutch neighbor, two doors down, who’s cookbooks I could read. The first language for chemistry is German, after all, and not English. Ingrid’s father was once over, visiting, and I switched to Hochdeutsch when asking him about “welche Schiffe” he had been on, as Ingrid said her dad had been a navy man. I didn’t know the right Dutch for diese Fragen.

            Mein Deutschlerherin sind Osterreicherin, so sage ich “Orange” und nie “Apfelsiene”.

    • saxonsun

      Is it possible that we will all be required to learn spanish? I think that’s coming. Over my dead body.

  • The__Bobster

    All the more reason to stop all immigration and proceed with massive deportations. Mestizos are a luxury we can no longer afford.

    • RisingReich

      I keep saying the same thing, and even people that recognize this is a problem, refuse accept the solution. I keep hearing “It’s impossible to round them up.” Well, the Germans darn near purged their country of undesirables. The methods used were cruel, and noncompliance was dealt with very harshly, I admit. However, those methods were pretty effective.

      It IS possible. Only question is how motivated the masses are to make it happen. Not enough conviction on the issue at this point.

  • Simonetta

    I shouldn’t have to be the one who points this out, but there are a lot of English-as-second-language resources available in the USA. Every local library that I go into has a big display of Spanish language books at levels from kindergarten to college level. Many have English translations.

    Plus there is a hidden resource: every television show in English has exact (or near exact) closed caption subtitles in English. Every DVD of every Hollywood movie available in the North America DVD region has subtitles in Spanish available and closed captions of the original English dialog available for viewing at the same time. Having the subtitles in English that exactly match the dialog of the movie goes a long way in helping understand how the phonemic sounds coming out of the actor’s mouths correspond to printed words in the subtitles (which are generally phonetic in English language). {‘Phonemic’ refers to actual speech and ‘phonetic’ refers to what the brain hears it as, or how people ‘hear words’. Example: Town cop: What cha rebelling against? Brando: Wha’ cha gaht? for “What do you got?” }

    It helps that the two languages English-Spanish have every third word be a cognant (a word that is nearly identical in both languages). It would be a lot easier to learn Spanish (or French for our Canadian cousins) if the subtitles in the Hollywood movie DVDs actually matched the spoken language in the Spanish/French audio track of the Hollywood movie DVD.
    Of course, people in the USA from distant lands could always help their children master English by actually speaking English with them at home.
    In the real world there are only two languages anyone needs to succeed: English and C++. Everything else is just local legacy language.

    • Luca

      The only time you see Mexican kids at the library is when they are spray painting graffiti on the walls outside.

  • a multiracial individual

    Americans were criticized when we asked that immigrants learn English, now we are being criticized that they are not learning English.

    • Alexandra

      “Bart, what’s an example of a paradox?”
      “Well, you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.”
      I remember that line from “The Simpsons”…back in the early 90s I actually watched it.

  • Jefferson

    You hear more English being spoken in The Philippines than you do in many parts of California. I have a cousin who was in the military and was stationed in The Philippines, and he told me that you hear more English being spoken in the streets of Manila than you do in the streets of Los Angeles.

    You know it is bad when there are parts of California that feel more culturally foreign than The Philippines.

  • When I started Kindergarten in 1943 in Totowa,NJ, I would estimate that about 1/3 of the class had little or no English. By the time we entered first grade, you could not tell who had started speaking English and who had not. Bi-lingual classes would not have been possible since there were several different languages involved. As far as I am concerned, bi-lingual and TESL classes have one purpose–to keep the kids frommastering English.

    • Luca

      The real purpose is pandering, and giving “make-do” jobs to the dues paying members of the teachers’ union. The result is dumber kids who can’t pass a test in either language.

  • Greg_Deane

    When I stay in other countries I don’t expect them to pay for me to learn their languages. I don’t deny that being an English speaker is a great boon when travelling or living abroad in most places. But if I attended an educational institution where I wasn’t familiar with the language, I would accept the onus of learning it at my own cost, and I wouldn’t not expect special consideration for poor language skills. Unfortunately, many migrants and international students in Australia feel they have entitlements to assistance economically and pedagogically, as well as special consideration. But they should be required to pass proficiency tests before being issued visas, for which they should have to pay fees that ensure they are able to contribute to their new community or perform well at an educational institution. The price mechanism is one way of ensuring reasonably intelligent applicants; few fools are rich or have rich families, even though the rich might do silly things.

  • KenelmDigby

    And the immigration boosters keep insisting that hispanics will ‘save’ the USA in that they will constitute the bulk of the new workforce.

    • Greg_Deane

      Illiterate fruit-pickers, chicken farmers and drug runners don’t have a lot to offer.

  • archer

    Jay, I agree, with the advances in science, help form captured German documents etc. this country was on the verge of being a super-state back in the sixties. What went wrong? How about the immigtation reform act of ’65 for starters, the lax welfare rules that allowed multi-generational welfare for the lowest achievers in the country etc. It’s too late now, barring some catastrophe, the demographics are all against us now.

  • Alexandra

    Don’t worry, just about everything is in English AND Spanish nowadays. I’m sure they’ll get by.

    • MarcusTrajanus

      It’s better that mestizos don’t speak English, the less communication there can be between mestizos and Whites the better. No communication means no integration, no integration means no assimilation.

  • MarcusTrajanus

    “Students who have been designated “English learners” make up one-quarter
    of all California public school students; 85% are U.S.-born”

    Spanish is my first language, but by the time I was 12 I spoke three languages, including English without ever having set foot in an English speaking country. These kids are born in the US and they still don’t speak English? Does that mean that they have been immersed in a Hispanic bubble where all they have ever heard is Spanish (at home, on TV, at school)? That seems hard to believe.

    What is the definition of “English learner” they are using? Could it be that they speak English but are incapable of reading and writing properly?

  • PesachPatriot

    Gee a hundred years ago during the ellis island period there were all kinds of non-english speakers arriving in america daily, many who were also illiterate in their own languages…germans, scandinavians, russians, poles, greeks, italians, hungarians, romanians, jews, etc….how did they all learn to speak english without ESL classes and hand wringing? Maybe because they actually wanted to become americans and learn the language of the Constitution and the founders. Their parents needed them to learn english so they could understand american society.

    My dad could not speak english when he got here in the 1970’s…it is a difficult language to learn, especially in america with all its different regional accents and slang, but within 5 years or so he could speak it fine. I joke around with one of my friends that if the early 20th century immigrants had been smart they would have held on to their native languages and today it would be press 1 for gaelic, 2 for italian, 3 for polish, 4 for yiddish and so on. No one expects pedro to speak it perfectly the first day he gets here, but at least make an effort. Parts of Florida are now basically spanish speaking territory…I tell out of towners that Miami is basically northern havana now and that Palm Beach county is the southernmost english speaking county in america.

    • Howard W. Campbell

      I have a “wise latina” co-worker who was born near Boise, Idaho and due to this, is an American citizen. After 20+ years, her parents have not bothered to learn English. They are part of the modern day helots who clean the motel rooms that Americans won’t. Too bad we can’t implement a system where people have to prove real English literacy before they receive a nickle of public welfare.

    • Ed_NY

      Millions came to this country and learned english by total immersion. Teaching a kid in his or her native language only holds them back. Get rid of ESL and like programs and the success rate will be much higher.