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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ESOL issue is back



Retired Florida International associate professor Rosa Castro Feinberg, who's also chairwoman of the LULAC Florida Education Advisory Committee, has contacted the Gradebook to get out the word that a bill aimed at reducing ESOL training for reading specialists (SB 0286) has returned to the halls of Tallahassee.

The bill came under fire last session and Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed it. Castro Feinberg and her colleagues are angling for the same result again this time around. Here's what she has to say.

"The bill would harm English language learners (ELLs) as the ESOL training requirements for reading teachers with ELL students would be cut from 300 hours to 60 hours. Representative Heller is one of the six legislators who voted against SB 2512 (HB1219) last session. Florida's 234,000 ELL students would be affected were this bill to pass," she writes.

There are three meetings scheduled in Tallahassee this week on the bill.

Castro Feinberg continues:

"The facts of the matter as I understand them follow.

"In 1990, the legislature passed companion bills presented by Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart giving DOE authority to distribute ESOL funds and to issue regulations governing the conditions for receipt of those funds. This was part of the state's compliance with the order of the federal district judge in LULAC v State Board of Education.  That order and resulting state rules set the 300 hour training level for teachers of any of the language arts. ... More recently, legislative authority was established in FS 1003.56 (1)

"English language instruction for limited English proficient students is defined in 1003.56(1) and includes reading: 'Instruction in the English language shall be provided to limited English proficient students. Such instruction shall be designed to develop the student's mastery of the four language skills, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as rapidly as possible.'

"Teachers of the language arts must complete 300 hours of ESOL training to learn how to transmit their subject to students who don't speak English. Reading is one of the language arts. Therefore, the sponsor's claim that reading should be treated as though it were a non-language arts subject, for which the training requirement is only 60 hours, doesn't make sense."

Enrollment of ELL students by county is presented here.

The Gradebook posted previously on this issue here and here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:29am]


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