Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Lawmakers say governor’s program for English-language learners inadequate

CARSON CITY — Legislative budget officials today attacked Gov. Brian Sandoval’s program to set aside $14 million to help students not proficient in English, calling it too little for all of the students who need assistance.

Assemblyman Andy Eisen, D-Las Vegas, complained that the proposed formula is unfair to Clark County, which has the majority of students who need the extra help with English.

Eisen and others lodged complaints about the program, presented by the state Department of Education.

James Guthrie, state superintendent of public instruction, said this is a start-up grant program to give the state’s 17 school districts a chance to see what works in helping students learn English.

Figures presented by the Department of Education to the joint Assembly-Senate Budget Subcommittee show an estimated 50,000 students in the primary grades are not proficient in English. Of those, 37,544 are in Clark County.

Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said she is not happy that the program would not reach all the schools in her district. “This is insufficient,” she said.

Clark County lawmakers were not the only ones not pleased.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, complained that the figures presented by the state were flawed. The report said there were no English-learning students in his county. That is not accurate, he said.

Under the proposed formula, $78 would be set aside the first year for each student not proficient in English and $205 in the second year. Each county would qualify for a minimum of $10,000.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said time is short to implement the program next school year and evaluate the results.

Rorie Fitzpatrick, deputy superintendent of public instruction, told the subcommittee that the department has been working with local school districts and is ready to go when the program is approved.

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  1. Drop the amount to 0 then repatriate all. Save the taxpayers money.

  2. Funding amounts for ELL similar to what is being proposed was so incapable of addressing the actual costs of teaching ELL that Arizona was sued over it. Arizona lost the case and was forced to pay out huge sums of money followed by being forced to increase total yearly spending by more than double.
    In other words, Guthrie and Sandoval obviously want the state to be sued and they plan on losing.

  3. This is a significant educational issue. Please read this important report:

    http://www.unlv.edu/sites/default/files/...

  4. Thanks to Commenter Angie Sullivan for the informative link, some 31 pages of technical information that explains how Nevada is last in ELL education because it is not being funded.

    For nearly a decade now, as a "Highly Qualified Teacher," I have served in Title 1 Schools in Clark County. Over those years, I have witnessed a time when we had ELL Specialists, who supported ELL instruction as well as offering assistance in the form of classes for parents of ELL students, only to see the cruel cutting of such services to nothing, and our children reaping the results of it.

    It doesn't serve any of us, our society, our community as a whole, to neglect or berate a whole population of immigrant people. Rather, we would do well to provide help with strings attached, as expecting illegal immigrants to go through the process of becoming legalized citizens of the United States of America, in return for the educational services they receive for themselves and their families. I tend to believe, THAT is what is holding things up.

    Until the Federal government gets their acts together with immigration, funding the ELL program will be minimal, if not iffy. Many of these immigrants refuse to assimulate into the American culture, which also is a real problem, even WITH support in schools. I have seen it.

    Here again, we are dealing with a population of people, who have a mindset, and goes right into the reluctance of Nevada Lawmakers to impose ENforcement teeth in the taxpayer funded, yearly administered school document called the PARENT/TEACHER/STUDENT INVOLVEMENT ACCORD. No one wants to touch this with a ten foot pole, as far as enforcing the thing. Just print it (in English and Spanish) each year at taxpayer expense, and watch folks ignore it (except educator, because the laws make them accountable).

    This is an example of a form of UNEQUAL accountability, when only educators and not the parents and students are held accountable and responsible. Look at the revolving door with student behavioral problems and low academic performance. Students come to a place whose environment's sole mission is to educate them, and they reflect attitudes that are not conducive towards that effort each day. Don't blame the educators.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star