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.