Since the beginning of my credential experience over a decade ago I’ve been groomed into preparing for a life dealing with students that have English as a Second Language. Nearly half of my credential classes focused on diversified learning (geared towards ELL students), I had to take numerous classes to attain my CLAD (Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development), I’ve been trained to teach using SDAIE (Specifically Designed Academic Instruction in English), I’ve had to go to Spanish Language classes, put up with innumerable professional development workshops, and have had to deal with constant reminders that the system is failing Latino students. In the course of a decade I’ve been told to incorporate more diverse techniques, then told to focus on Explicit Direct Instruction, then told to use a little Spanish, only to be then told to use only English, and of course told to be more culturally sensitive.
It hasn’t really worked. In fact if there is one thing that No Child Left Behind has forced in our faces is that the current way we teach Hispanic students has done little to change the fact that they continue to underachieve in our classrooms. In our school district we have students that have been in the classroom for years and have failed to move up in language acquisition and academic performance. With all due respect to naysayers against teachers, these students are not getting bad teachers in every grade in elementary school, and they are certainly not getting over a dozen bad teachers in middle school and high school. Maybe the question needs to be “Why are Hispanic students not performing to grade level in classrooms”, and go from there. And why not ask teachers while we are at it. I’ll be happy to tell you two things; first that many of my Hispanic students are successful (especially the females), and second that my Hispanic students that are not successful usually have some correlation to their attendance in my classroom.
But this week we got another evidence-of-ELL-Instruction-blah-blah-blah thing that we will fill out with the same old stuff with the realization that what needs to change seems to be out of our control. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the one thing that George Bush was right about was when he said that disadvantaged children should not suffer the soft bigotry low expectations. Maybe this time I’ll write down “I hold them to a high standard. Are we all doing the same?”