Mon January 28, 2013
School district grapples with English Language Learners
The Buffalo Public School District has been grappling with languages issues for decades, with difficulties increasing in the era of high-stakes testing and immigration from the far corners of the world.
Abany has been tightening the requirements for when an immigrant has to take the mandated tests. But the state does not take into account that the student has not yet mastered English. They are called English Language Learners.
There are also problems with getting teacher aides for some of those languages to help the student.
Buffalo teachers are angry because they are being evaluated on how well that student does, perhaps months away from a refugee camp somewhere.
There have also been problems because the parents are even less likely to know English. It's become an issue in special education where some children are both in need of that assistance and help with English and have parents who don't understand.
Special Education parent advisory council chair Kim Walek recently pleaded with the school board to deal with the issue.
"Could you send out an English connected reports to the resettlement agencies and and agencies in general that are working with our families that are not native English speakers because they get the mystery message and they hear their child's school or they hear if's from the Buffalo Public Schools and they don't know what the message is and it can be something like: it's regents week. if your child doesn't have a regents test this week, 9th through 12th grade, your child will not need to report," said Walek.
Buffalo Schools superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown, who speaks Spanish, is familiar with the issue and says the district is trying to deal with it, while admitting the district web site is almost completely in English.