Big turnout Hayward Unified’s ELL meeting

There was quite a crowd at last night’s special Hayward Unified meeting at the district boardroom — about 75 people showed up, but it thinned rapidly after public comments were made.

While some speakers were concerned about the state of the Academic Language Development lessons, the majority spoke to the need for keeping the English Language Learner programs and English Language Advisory Committees.

But Board President Lisa Brunner and Superintendent Janis Duran both said that was never on the table, and didn’t know where people got that idea.

“This meeting is for information only, I don’t know where people got the impression there were going to be cuts,” Brunner said, adding that the goal of the meeting was to learn about the programs in an effort to improve services to students in both English Language Development and Academic Language Development programs.

In fact, according to the extensive presentation, such cuts are legally not an option. The district was found to be noncompliant in programs for English learners by the federal Office of Civil Rights and the state Dept. of Education in 2004, and needed additional corrections after a 2008 review.

“It all happened at once,” said Lety Salinas, the executive director of academic affairs who gave the presentation. “We have come so far since (2004), but we need to know the history so we don’t repeat mistakes.”

The presentation itself lasted well over an hour, and went into the history of the programs and legal compliance, program goals, how students are classified and placed into various programs, how they are monitored and when they move on. There was also info on the methods of instruction, including a video montage of classes in action. There’s a .pdf of the PowerPoint in the link at the top of this entry.

The concerns about ALD were not lost on the board. Board members said they have been fielding calls and emails from parents who feel it’s a waste of time for their kids to attend those classes for 45 minutes at the start of each day when they could be taking science, or history, or social studies.

One repeated concern is from parents whose children rapidly run through the structured lessons, only to find themselves facing the exact same materials over again because there’s nowhere to advance through the current system, which sounds a lot like that movie “Groundhog Day.”

“When I hear of using lower level materials in combination classes, repeated the next year, that’s a red flag,” said trustee William McGee.

ALD is a new program, and Salinas said they “aim to be flexible, but we’re just not there yet.”

Statistics: Of the 20,661 students enrolled in Hayward Unified, 7,122 of them — or 34 percent — are English Language Learners. And 58 percent of students have a language spoken at home other than English. Of the ELL students, the vast majority, 6,155 (85.4 percent of the total) have Spanish as a first language. Filipino speakers are a distant second, with 229 ELL students.

Eric Kurhi

  • My biggest concern it that while HUSD addresses the needs of the ELL student, those students who are English fluent are getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop. It has often been the case in HUSD that while we address the needs of one group of students many others are ignored. There has to be a way to design a program that allows for academic development for all students…before we attempt to implement it.
    I am also interested in Ms. Roccio’s comments to the Board regarding the fact that no attendance is taken at the start of this 45 minute period at the beginning of the day. Ms. Roccio, has anyone from HUSD District offices responded to that??

  • teachermama

    Apparently I am in the lucky minority, but my son has had very good experiences with the ALD program at Stonebrae. They group the students by their fluency level and focus a lot on vocabulary development. I’ve seen huge growth in his reading abilities the last two years and I am pleased with the work he brings home from his ALD class. As an added bonus, he has been in combo classes for the last two years, and ALD has been a 45 minute respite from that. I hear the ALD curriculum that we have now is good, but I teach ELD myself, so I don’t know firsthand.

  • teachermama

    Oh, and I agree that attendance has become a major pain now, with many teachers (including me) forgetting to take roll AT ALL some days. Having a different group of kids first thing in the morning really throws the rhythm off, plus there are parents who need to talk to you, latecomers, sleepyheads, etc. I would prefer to have ELD later in the day, when the kids are more talkative, homework has already been checked, and a change of pace is welcomed. But of all the issues facing HUSD, this is not the one killing me. I am more worried about elementary prep, class sizes and combo classes.

  • MBB

    I am in an opposite boat than you Teachermama. while my oldest is in a combo class for regular class and attends ALD with only her grade she is board to tears in class. she doesn’t understand shy she needs to attend ALD she says “it is a waste of my time. I learn nothing there” her regular class also offers her not much in the challenge area either. she is a very strong student but I have seen her slipping since she has no real need to put any effort in to get good grades. My daughter is an excellent student. The kind teachers like to have BUT she is board and i am not sure if she will still e an excellent student for ever at the rate HUSD is failing her. They have nothing for the kids who score proficient or above on the STAR test. they are focusing all their time and funds on the kids who are behind while forgetting about the kids who are doing well, if HUSD keeps this up they will loose these kids. Either to other district or just mentally they will start checking out because they can and still do okay.

    I also have a younger child. he is in 2nd grade but since we have so many kids in a class and not enough teachers he attends 3rd grade ALD. I though this is great because he is a strong student. BUT I spoke with his ALD teacher today and she informed me next year when he is a 3rd grader he gets to do it all over again. Then while speaking with a friend she said she is under the impression it is in 2 yr cycles. so in reality he will more than likely be doing the same ALD yet again in 4th grade too. I am truly hoping this is wrong. I am not sure what to do next to ensure my children stay challenged in school. My 2nd grader is not board yet but he will be in time just like his sister.

    Lastly I would LOVE to know what the district plans to do about the no attendance policy until after ALD/ELD. what happens if there is an earthquake?? how do they know who to look for in the building?? My son’s ALD teacher doesn’t even know how many kids are in her ALD class. when I asked her this morning she said ” oh I don’t know exactly about 34. kids come in and out to often I can’t keep track”

    As a district they need better attendance taking policy and they need to challenge our kids so they do not get board. what can we do to help this?? any ideas???

  • MBB

    Oh sorry it appears I missed saying that our school does not level ALD by ability as some school do. according to the letter on the home page of HUSD they say to pacify parents that although they have to do combo classes kids will be leveled for the first 45 minutes of the day in ALD/ELD. but it seems that ONLY ELD is leveled. not ALD at all at our school site anyway. Last week my 5th grader got the word Paradise for a vocab word of the day. yup 45 minutes on Paradise. by the way my 2nd grader new the word.

  • trigliker

    MBB. Your daughter is board? A piece of wood? We all might need some ALD.

    I wonder what the district is going to do about ALD. I do know they said that attendance is taken. I was concerned about that as well. I want to make sure my child is accounted for and if an emergency happened they would know where to locate him.

    What can we do to be a part of the solution?

  • K Rocchio

    MBB, Many of your concerns are the same what I spoke to on Wednesday night. These are the issues I had hoped to have openly discussed. However, it became clear that the majority of the audience was concerned that all ELL services were being eliminated from the District. As Eric indicated, this was never on the table.

    Re: ALD – 34% of HUSD students are classified as ELL. This leaves 66% of our students in ALD. We need to make sure this program is adequately staffed and best serving the needs of our students. Lack of personnel means they are packing these classes to numbers well above 34:1. There needs to be some focus on assessing, transitioning and leveling ALD students, similar to what is done with ELD. Let’s work to make this program relevant to the proficiency of each student. The attendance issue is also a real concern with this program. 45 minutes is a long time. If any parent lost track of their 5 year old in the mall for 45 minutes, that would be crazy and yet every day we have small children going unaccounted for during this time. Hmmmm, what could happen in 45 minutes?

    Teachermama, I am glad to hear your school has found ways to make this program work. I know that some of the schools have made the site decision to level their ALD classes on their own. Hopefully after the miscommunication this week, they will be able to pull something together to openly discuss how to make both of these program better. I know there were teachers at the meeting expressing concern regarding the time placement, so hopefully this will be revisited.

  • John W. Kyle


    Ca. State Senate Bill 1317 has teeth in it sufficient to reign in the trUancy problem.



  • qodrn

    To MMM – sounds like your oldest child might need to jump up a grade. That should challenge her, plus maybe solve some issues with ALD.

    If she is bored in ALD, why don’t you opt her out?

  • Qodrn,
    I don’t think parents have an option to remove/opt a child out of the ALD. This is just another example of HUSD not doing its homework and planning before instituting a new program.

  • qodrn

    I don’t know about that; if a parent makes enough noise, things sometimes actually happen even in HUSD.

  • Watchdog

    Maybe not related to the subject above, but I feel this needs public attention. Why doesn’t the Personnel Commision members have e-mail addresses available to be able to contact them on issues concerning employee’s complaints to bring to their attention?

    Maybe if they had contact e-mail available, more issues would’nt go unnoticed.

  • Watchdog,
    I think that is a very important question. It would seem to me that they should be just as accessable as a board member. Perhaps you should go to the next Personnel Commission meeting and pose that question and maybe you should also pose the same question to the board during comments from the community.

  • John W. Kyle


    Do you speak by use of acronyms?

    ADA Average daily Attendance
    ALD Academic Language Development
    API Academic Performance Index
    AVP Adequate yearly progress
    CAHSEE California High School Exit Examination
    CBEDS California Basic Educational Data System
    CELDT California English language Development Test
    CST California Standards Test
    CWA Child Welfare and Attendance
    EIA Economic Impact Aid
    ELA English language Arts
    ELD English Language Development
    FAPE Free and Appropriate Education
    FEP Fluent English Proficient
    FTE Full Time Equivalent
    IDSG Intentional Data Study Groups

    There are 29 additional acronyms on the list which is now supplied with each HUSD Trustee meeting agenda…. Unfortunately the Spanish speaking parents are not supplied a translation…. Perhaps some kind soul will bring this ommission to the attention of the Trustees….

    In the meantime blog contributors or those simply curious, can use this material presently provided only in English.

  • mmb

    The fact is neither ELD or ALD are providing an efficient way to ensure language development at any level. The ELL vs non ELL ratios tend to be pretty uneven and accurate leveling or placement remains an issue. We are currently placing them unnecessarily in the wrong levels and with mixed grades and limited results. The School District is over thinking this and the children are suffering because of it. The fact is it does not matter what language is spoken at home, language deficiencies are present in all children because hello they are children. It does not make any sense to separate the children based on what language is spoken at home. There needs to be a way to asses ALL children and then separate based on language development levels and needs. This would ensure that no matter what background all children are offered language development assistance at the appropriate level it be low, grade level or advanced. I’m not saying that we should not be aware and help children who are learning English, I just believe we would have better results if we combined our efforts to ensure that the leveling is accurate. If after such assessment is made available to ALL children there continues to be deficiencies in placement the parents and teachers should have a say as to how the child can receive further assistance. This is coming from an ELL parent.

  • John W. Kyle


    Finally, a story appearing in today’s issue of the Review, which might be considered proactive in it’s attempt to draw attention to the truancy problem at HUSD.

    Typical of HUSD, the recited approach to the problem is timid ! The story recites just how timid is the approach by administration!
    Ms. Jan Stephenson is a bleeding heart whose timidity is recited by her reputed belief that taking a parent to court for failure to asssure attendence is not an ideal solution. Of course not! It is however an assurance that a neglectful parent’s attention is centered on responsibility!

    If I were a member of HEA, I would be compelled to see inattention to the problem is a ditrect cause of the failing negotiations as between HEAS and the Administration. The same applies to the other two unions, or as we say in some circlesd, ythe non-bargaining units.

    To sustain the losses at one high school, reputed to be $4,492. per day, is seen by me to be an act of neglect in performance of duty by administration.

    While serving in the Army’s forces in western Germany in the mid 1950’s, I trook a course in conversational German, ( frequently interrupted by demands of duty,). During that class, taught by a former member of the wehrmacht who was fortunate enough to be ’captured’ in Tunisia and provided a POW’s vacation in Canada. He explained a situation within the educational system of Western Germany. At age 13, ’the system’ decided how your future education would o9ccur. If your grades and teachers recommended the eauivalent of higfh school, that is what you received; other wise you were assigned to a ’trade school’. Wich trade school depended upon mental acuity. That concept has resulted in recognion of the fact that some of the finest machine tool work available to that economy is a direct result of recognition thayt college is not for everyone!

    Undemocratic? You might think so, I do not! The reality is that it works to the satisfaction of many, including teachers who might appreciate the fact that not all their students are interested in going to college, despite encouragement of desire by advisors.

    Skilled machinists capable of reaching out in machine tolerances of 1/1,000 of an inch, live quite well in comparison to the earnings of a mere grade school teacher.

    I say … get tough with parents whose kids fail to attend class. For many, the experience will be educating as well as result in compliance with parental duty!

  • MBB

    Mmb I agree to what you are saying. at my children’s school there are kids in ELD who do not even speak the language their parents wrote down is spoken at home. I was at a party with one of these kids yesterday. her mom started speaking in her language and the youngest said “English please” she barely understands the other language BUT she is in ELD to learn English. and then we have kids in the ALD who need desperate help putting together a sentence. they are struggling. I think this is crazy.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    I attended the meeting. I saw a couple of teachers coaching parents as to what they had to say in favor of bilingual education; poor parents, once again they were used to politicize the situation. Bilingual ed. was not in danger to be cut. Many parents were told that the new board president is interested in cutting the program. Perhaps some member(s)continue to be unhappy about the ” president of the board” position? Please, let’s provide accurate information to our parents, let’s read/translate the agenda to them instead of “fabrications”.
    We do need to tweak many things on that master plan; we need to provide curriculum grade leveled ALD. My daughter is not being challenged; 45 wasted minutes every day. Thank goodness we don’t wait on HUSD to provide what she needs. Not all children are as fortunate as Lucy.
    I was hoping to see more data of ELLs by schools; if some programs are not working at a particular school. Maybe it’s time to try others. How about restructuring/redesigning programs that are failing? Hmm…

  • Duane

    you hit the nail on the head Lucy’s Mom!! Parents were completely mislead as to the new President’s position. I sense that you are also correct about “some board member(s) continue to be unhappy about the ‘president of the board’ situation”. I believe it was one of those unhappy ones up there who mislead parents. We finally have a board president who absolutely believes in ALL students. I have yet to see her make a decision in which the needs of the students were not considered paramount. Even when she was campaigning her comments usually began with speaking about the students. I feel good about her being at the helm. I actually feel confidence in the configuration of the new board. I feel that at last – SOMEONE is watching to make sure that we do not become a remedial district!!

  • K Rocchio

    I hope the community is able to move forward after this terrible miscommunication. Some of the comments made were very personal and angry … all based on rumors. I hope that we can identify where this type of problem stems from and put a stop to it. Parents need transparency and communication and when we get it, we need to be able to believe that it is accurate and not serving some sort of personal agenda.

    After the meeting last week, I notified the District that I am opting out of this program for many reasons. There is no formal process, but I have to do what is best for the safety and interest of my child. I am still working through this process.

    I do want to share that I have been assured that the District is reevaluating the ALD program. They are aware that this program is not where it needs to be and they are sending out surveys. Modifications will be made to make this program equitable and relevant for all students. I am optimistic that this will happen and the safety concerns will be addressed.

  • qodrn

    1. The best way to send a message to HUSD is for parents to opt out in mass. If the program isn’t working, why subject your child to it when he could be doing something that might actually help him?

    2. I was wondering about truancy. I don’t think the school CAN prosecute for this crime. It is up to the police to find evidence and then arrest for the crime. Then the DA office has to go to court. If the law says x, then the district should make clear that there is the law, and we will support it by reporting trauncy as required. It is up to the court to deal with extenuating circumstances. It seems the school wants to do everything BUT report as required.
    But since the law is not followed up on by anyone it seems, what is the point?

    3. If a high school is losing 1800 a day and there are 180 days a year 324,000 *3 = 750,000. So, truancy could indeed save the district several million but not the all of the cuts needed. I think.

  • To Lucy’s Mom and Duane,
    This is the tactic that HUSD has used for years to divide the community…leak rumors…scary rumors…and then let the fur fly. I agree with Duane that it probably was “aided” by disgruntled board members who saw their “agenda” going down the tubes.

    I believe that Ms. Brunner, Mr. McGee and Mr. Reynoso have the aboslute dedication to doing what is best for ALL students. I am hopeful that they will be able to rectify all that has happened during the last year+ that has been done to harm students and the district. I just wish it would happen “yesterday”.