Friday, February 24, 2006

California education bureaucracy continues to segregate "English learners" and make them permanent second class citizens

"Let them speak Spanish" seems to be the idea

Almost half of Sacramento County students who are learning English have achieved proficiency in the language, according to test results released Wednesday by the state. But less than 10 percent have been reclassified by their schools as being fluent enough in English to keep up with the academic demands of learning science, history and other subjects in a language they were not born into. The local trend is mirrored statewide, creating a discrepancy that puts many of California's 1.3 million English learner students in a linguistic limbo - their English skills are good by one standard, but not by another. Consequently, observers worry, students who can get by in English may not be learning the same material as their native-English-speaking peers.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell called attention to the difference between the number of students passing the test and the number being reclassified as fluent when he announced the most recent results of the California English Language Development Test during a press conference in Sacramento. "We need to look at why this gap continues to occur," he said. California has the most diverse student population in the country, and a quarter of schoolchildren here are English learners, O'Connell said. He called on local school districts to review the procedures they use to reclassify students from their status as English learners - who are supposed to receive specialized instruction - to the category of fluency, when they are to be taught the same as native English speakers. "There's not a uniform policy from district to district," O'Connell said. He hinted that that may soon change, saying the state board of education will likely consider creating a statewide standard for determining when English learners should be reclassified as fluent.

Their scores on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) are one of four factors districts are supposed to use to determine if students should be redesignated. Officials also are supposed to consider teacher evaluation, parent opinion and student performance on the standardized tests all students take in most academic subjects. "The standard for moving them into reclassification is quite high," said Ted Appel, principal of Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. At his school, 79 percent of English learners tested at the proficient levels on the CELDT last year. But only 3 percent were re-classified as being fluent in English. That's because in order to be reclassified at his school, Appel said, students must also have at least a C in history or science as well as high scores on the standardized math and English tests that are given to all students. Those high standards assure that all students who are reclassified know more than conversational English - they will be prepared to succeed in science, literature and history classes, Appel said.

On the other hand, observers point out, students who are proficient in English but are not being reclassified could be harmed by being held in classes that are too easy. "If they get stuck there, that's really problematic because it means they're not accessing the academic content they need to," said Elisabeth Cutler, an analyst with Education Trust West, an Oakland group that advocates academic achievement for minority and low-income students. Because the state lacks a student identification number that follows students through all their years in school, much remains unknown about California's English learners, Cutler said. For example, the state can't track how many years students spend as English learners before they are reclassified, or how many new students replace them when they advance out of the category.

It is also unclear whether students are being held in the English learner status because they are not ready to advance to mainstream instruction or for other reasons, such as social pressure. Some students may not want to go to mainstream classes because they are embarrassed by their abilities in English, said Patricia Gandara, an education professor at UC Davis.

Appel, the Burbank principal, said his staff is determined that students stay in English learner status only for academic reasons. "We are philosophically working very hard to look at students who have been in the U.S. a number of years and ... move them into mainstream classes and make sure they're receiving appropriate instruction," he said.

It's a challenge schools up and down California must now confront, Gandara said. "Everybody is very concerned about the kids being stuck in a track that is not providing them real opportunities to learn, year after year after year," she said. "This is a real dilemma because the other side of the coin would be bouncing them into the mainstream with teachers who are not trained to give them support."



No freedom of speech, though. The only way to survive if your views are non-Leftist is to shut up about it

Revelations that a University of Delaware research assistant and physics instructor is a leader in the regional white supremacy movement did not change his standing at the university, an institution that values free speech.

Ironically, The News Journal's Feb. 12 article that Robert T. Huber was living a dual life -- one on campus, the other in the white power movement -- brought criticism from a former mentor and creator of the national "Skinhead Hall of Fame." "I've seen it before. There are many who try to keep a job and keep a low profile as far as their political activities are concerned," says Richard Barrett, founder and leader of the white supremacist Nationalist Movement. "It usually doesn't wash. It's very controversial. Maybe he felt he could go it on his own."

The News Journal detailed Huber's association with Final Stand Records, a Newark-based Web site that promotes skinhead concerts, sponsors racist Internet chat rooms and peddles neo-Nazi and racist skinhead music, including CDs by three of Huber's bands. Huber plays lead guitar for the white power metal band Teardown, which has a Web site -- currently under construction-- that can be traced to a Newark post office box shared by Huber, whose former bands include Blue Eyed Devils and Nordic Thunder. In Nordic Thunder's "Born To Hate," the band sings:

A working class man with a gun in my hand
Out on the streets, I'm an angry White man
Pissed at the world and sick of the state
Gotta take action, can't you relate

As long as Huber's music doesn't mix with his course work, his noncampus interests should not count against him, said UD President David P. Roselle and a handful of students interviewed by The News Journal. However, at least one student expressed concern about how minorities might be treated by Huber. "Our best choice is to tolerate him," said Dean Carter, a 19-year-old English major. "Ninety-nine percent of the students won't agree with him. His views are upsetting, and we should support his right to have his opinions. However, his freedom ends where my nose begins."

Huber, 32, has been active in the white power movement since his early teens, when he joined Barrett's skinhead movement. He's a member of the "Skinhead Hall of Fame," a distinction noted on the Web site, though he later broke from Barrett's group and struck out on his own. Huber did not respond to repeated phone and e-mail attempts to contact him during the week. Last month, Huber, along with a Pennsylvania-based racist group called the Keystone State Skinheads, held a rock concert in Middletown, Pa., that drew more than a hundred skinheads and neo-Nazis. It was one of a series of "hatecore" concerts promoted by Final Stand Records. Two days after the concert, Huber was back on UD's Newark campus teaching an introductory physics course to more than 100 students. The course final was held Feb. 4. A student in the class said Huber wore long-sleeves while teaching to conceal his tattoos and never talked about race or politics. Huber warned the class that he listened to "hardcore" music, so if they heard it during office hours they shouldn't be shocked.

Huber isn't teaching this semester, but he continues to study, has an office on campus and conducts research paid for by NASA.

Barrett has known Huber since Huber's early teens and once stayed at his Elkton, Md., home, where they organized a local chapter of Barrett's group. Barrett said Huber should have stayed active with the skinhead movement rather than going "underground" and concealing his beliefs. "He would have made an excellent national skinhead spokesman," Barrett said. "He would have been a compelling-looking, persuasive social reformer. Unfortunately, he has chosen a way that could cause him to be perceived as a cultist" -- which Barrett defined as someone more concerned about their image than white supremacist beliefs.

Barrett, a 63-year-old attorney, works out of his secured compound in Learned, Miss. According to the Anti-Defamation League, he has been successful in attracting violent skinheads to his group and is best known for staging public rallies where counter-demonstrators far outnumber the Klansmen and skinheads who are attracted to his cause. In a report released this month, the ADL outlined how the Internet and hatecore music have combined to increase the number of small racist skinhead groups, such as the Keystone State Skinheads, while national organizations have struggled to maintain membership.

After Sunday's News Journal stories on Huber and racist skinhead culture were published, the photo section of the Final Stand Records Web site, which contained pictures of Huber's concert performances, were restricted to the public. The site also restricted entry to its chat room. The catalog section of the Web site, which has more than 400 racist CDs for sale, remains operational. In interviews with white supremacist magazines, Huber says he started the Web site to have an outlet for his music. Huber answers e-mail sent to the site's contact address, but the site's owner is shielded by a proxy service.

University reaction:

After being told of Huber's activities by The News Journal, Roselle conducted an investigation and consulted with university attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union. Roselle said Huber's status at the university will not change. "It's the same as before," Roselle said. "The advice is that that is the condition that needs to prevail." Roselle said he has not heard from any students who are worried about Huber's extracurricular activities, but several community members contacted him with concerns. Roselle would not discuss what they said. "It was nothing that would in any way be thought to be surprising," he said.

In a statement issued Thursday evening, Roselle said no complaints had been made against Huber and there was no evidence Huber discussed his beliefs in class. "It is a personal affront when persons with hateful beliefs espouse those beliefs, insist upon their right to make public displays of their beliefs or otherwise attempt to spread their venom," Roselle said in the press release. "But, a fundamental tenet of our nation is that my objection or, as in this case, the university's objection, is not sufficient reason to deny the right of free speech."........

Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, the university's on-campus rabbi, hasn't heard complaints from students, but community members have expressed interest and concerns. "He'll finish school. He can't get punished for his thoughts. " Sneiderman said. "He may not get a teaching position again, but if I was in Roselle's position, I would do the same thing -- unless there's a complaint."

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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