This afternoon, the Florida Department of Education holds a public hearing on new rules for the teaching of English as a second language.
Ordinarily, such meetings come and go without much notice. But some South Florida educators, notably former Miami-Dade board member and retired FIU professor Rosa Castro-Feinberg and her colleagues, are raising the red flag on the effort.
Their concerns are many, and they range from procedure to content.
Notably, the group is concerned that the DOE is rushing through changes to the way two groups of teachers are trained to teach ESOL. They say that this smaller rule change could prevent the state from taking on a needed complete overhaul of the entire ESOL program.
They also argue that setting up the course requirements for teacher training is premature, because the content for the standards has not been set.
"Perhaps the most startling fact about the proposed meeting and schedule leading to it is that not one of the districts with ELL enrollment greater that 9,000 was able to meet the deadline for providing input on the proposed teacher training standards," Castro Feinberg writes in an e-mail with the subject line "here we go again" to the Gradebook. "That includes Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, Hillsborough and Osceola. That means those at the stakeholders meeting will be making decisions without the benefit of information from the districts with the most experience and expertise with ELL students."
The recommendations she makes on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens' education group are:
- Extend the timeline.
- Adjust the composition of the Stakeholders Group to ensure geographic, ethnic and linguistic diversity, a relevant range of expertise, and inclusion of public teacher training institutions.
- Sponsor regional drafting workshops.
- Appoint the ESOL Advisory Council.
We'll wait and see whether that happens, and how it might affect Florida's 234,000 ESOL students. The meeting is today from 1-4 p.m. in Tallahassee. The State Board of Education is scheduled to receive the final rule in March.