Since the board’s crackdown on transitional bilingual education began in 1997, 17 schools have adopted dual-language programs for at least some of their students, bringing the total to 26. Instruction at most of the schools is conducted in Spanish and English. One school, Haines, teaches in Chinese and English.
The new policy, intended to ensure students would no longer languish in the program, has since produced results. More students are exiting the program after three or four years, and fewer are enrolled in the program overall.
School officials say these students are doing well in their all-English classes. The board tracked some 3,524 3rd -through 8th-graders who exited the bilingual program between 1998 and 2000, and found that at every grade they scored above the CPS median on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS).
More than 350 teachers answered, reports the CPS Department of Human Resources. Three-quarters were from CPS. By late October, 71 had been selected, given two weeks of intense training and sent to schools. Others were to complete training and start in schools by Nov. 5. Beyond the neediest schools, an additional 30 that have paid for their own literacy coordinators or other similar positions sent those people to training.
Example of word Knowledge: The teacher first presents a vocabulary word in a sentence and ensures that everyone understands it. She then isolates the word, drawing the students’ attention to the word itself, both its meaning and spelling. Each student keeps track of a list of words, and students practice isolated words every day.
AT CLARK STREET Cynthia Greenleaf, former senior advisor for the School Partners Program, joins Alyson Cooke, a central office newcomer, as co-executive directors of a new unit, External Resources and Partnerships; they will work with the non-profit and philanthropic communities. Greenleaf is the wife of Jonathan Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. … The special leave of absence for Rudy J. Lubov has been extended one year to allow her to continue working with the Illinois State Board of Education as an educator-in-residence. … Shelia C. Riley, contracts investigations unit case manager, becomes the director. … Andres Durbak, associate director of Safety and Security, is now director. … Ana Espinoza, interim curriculum, instruction and professional development officer, is now the permanent officer. … Lynette Fu, former executive assistant to the chief accountability officer, is now grants monitor and support officer for the chief education officer. … John Harnedy, manager of equal educational opportunity programs, is now its director. … William McGowan, former assistant to the deputy superintendent for schools and regions, is now chief management support officer. … Ronald Whitmore, executive director of research and curriculum of the Office of Language, Cultural and Early Childhood Education, is now early childhood education officer.
By the time the School Board officially revised its bilingual policy, it had added a bilingual summer school program for struggling students and bilingual support for students in their first year of all-English classes.
As Catalyst Managing Editor Mario G. Ortiz reports, the policy has had its intended impact, greatly reducing the number of students in bilingual education, and has won a measure of respect from most everyone involved. Barbara Radner, director for the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University, echoes research findings that children need five years to move into English fluency, yet she acknowledges that the board’s policy has resulted in more rigorous instruction.
Under it, Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins assumes more responsibility than that held by her predecessor in the Paul Vallas administration. Eason-Watkins is at the top of a pyramid that includes all education offices except for two new ones, one dealing with strategic planning and the other with research and evaluation. Under Vallas, Chief Education Officer Cozette Buckney was atop one group of education offices, and schools and regions chief Blondean Davis was atop another. Davis resigned after Duncan was appointed.
Only a month before last school year ended, parents who had signed up their children for the inaugural year of King College Prep were told the school’s opening would be postponed until September 2002. The reason: major renovations were not yet complete, and too few students had applied for admission.
This scene is a daily reality for high school students enrolled in two CPS International Newcomer and Refugee Centers.
Newcomer centers were created to provide a soft landing to students who are at least 14 years old and have been living in the U.S. for less than a year. The first one was opened at Taft High School in 1999; a second opened at Senn High School a year later. This fall, each school has 40 students enrolled.
This year, 895 of the district’s 1,523 bilingual teachers are working with provisional certificates, called Type 29s, reports Manuel Medina, who oversees language and cultural education for CPS. However, many of these teachers have standard certificates but lack the bilingual endorsement and, therefore, are considered Type 29s. Medina says only 250 have neither a standard certificate nor the endorsement.