L.A. schools should not separate non-English-speaking children

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An education controversy is brewing in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is planning to separate non-English speaking elementary students from other students in core classes. These changes are to be made soon, although it is almost three months into the school year. According to the Los Angeles Times, LAUSD Superintendant John Deasy believes that too many English Learners are learning “Spanglish” from their fellow students, rather than proper English.

The move by the LAUSD has rightfully angered parents, teachers, and principals. While the district’s experts say the plan is a sound idea, common sense and past experience suggest that it may not be. It opens the door to classifying Spanish-speaking pupils as “second-class students” simply because they are not proficient in English.

“Kids with little or no English are going to be segregated and told they’re not good enough for the mainstream,” one mother of a kindergartner told the L.A. Times. ”Kids learn from their peers, and they’re not going to be able to do that anymore.” Meanwhile, 17 principals from South L.A. schools have signed a letter to their local superintendant expressing their opposition to the policy. They pointed out that Spanish-speaking students will be uprooted from their friends and familiar teachers, and that segregating students would create a “chasm” between them. These concerns are all valid. It seems illogical that schools trying to teach students English will now be forced to separate these students from their English-speaking peers.

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