Civil Rights lawyers at a press conference Wednesday announcing a lawsuit against California for allegedly failing to provide mandated help for students who aren't fluent in English.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has sued California officials alleging about 20,000 students who don't speak English fluently are languishing in public school classrooms without the help schools are mandated to provide.
The state’s large immigrant population makes English learner instruction a big issue in California. The state labels about one in four public school students as English learners. Many are immigrants; others are U.S. citizens raised by parents who speak a foreign language. State and federal laws require schools to help these students become fluent speakers, readers and writers of English so they'll do well in other academic subjects.
But Oxnard teacher and administrator Walt Dunlop, who attended the ACLU's press conference announcing Wednesday's lawsuit, said that’s not what he saw in the classroom. He said English learner students went days without help from teachers or peers.
Paramount High School
From left to right: Lucio Lopez, Xavier Aldana, Thalia Hernandez and Faby Zuniga. The fifth scholarship winner is not pictured.
Five Paramount High School students have been selected as Gates Millennium Scholars -- a rare achievement among high schools. Funded in 1999, the minority scholarships pay for up to 10 years of study, room and board.
"I was shocked. I still am shocked right now, like I feel like I’m going to wake up from a dream," said Xavier Aldana, one of the scholarship winners. Aldana got the good news when his mom picked him up from swim practice.
"She handed me a big envelope and then I started crying and then I opened it and then more tears came out," he said. Aldana plans to attend the University of Southern California to study filmmaking. Prior to winning the scholarship he had no hopes of affording graduate school, but now he's thinking of going on to get a master's degree in computer engineering.
Burbank Unified may be punished by the state after a teacher allegedly helped students answer questions on a high stakes test. The incident took place last week in a third grade classroom, officials said.
"Some people thought that the teachers gave answers or there was cheating,” said Burbank Unified superintendent Jan Britz.
“It wasn't cheating; it wasn't giving answers," she said. "But there's a variety of things that you can do for test security and the students identified that and the investigation actually confirmed that."
Britz agreed that breach is a black eye for the district. Two people investigated the incident last week at McKinley Elementary School after students reported it. The school district handed over the results of the investigation to California’s Department of Education.
Rogers Herr Middle School
A third grade teacher at McKinley Elementary is on leave after a student reported receiving help with answers on the state's STAR exams.
Burbank school officials say a third-grade teacher has been put on leave after a student reported a got help with answers on state standardized tests.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Burbank Unified Superintendent Jan Britz announced the investigation at a board meeting last week.
Britz says the student told the principal at McKinley Elementary that students received help with answers on the state's STAR exams.
District' officials investigated and gave their findings to the California Department of Education, which is now conducting its own investigation. The department declined comment.
Britz says it's likely that at least the class's set of tests will be declared invalid, and the school could lose its Academic Performance Index score, which at 835 is well above the state target of 800.
New K-12 science standards developed by 26 states are expected to go before the State Board of Education in November for possible adoption.
California is one step closer to adopting sweeping new K-12 science standards that were released by 26 states earlier this month.
The state Department of Education announced today that three public meetings will be held throughout the state in the coming weeks to collect feedback ahead of the Board of Education's review of the standards this fall.
The standards—developed after nearly two years of study and discussion—represent a shift from current science teaching methods, which experts say represent a "mile wide, inch deep" approach.
Instead, the new standards dive deeply into fewer topic areas and emphasize hands-on learning that requires critical thinking instead of memorization.
"Right now, what we know is that based upon the research and the evidence that we have, our students aren’t doing as well as we’d like them to," the Department of Education's Director of Professional Learning Support Phil Lafontaine told KPCC when the standards were released.