Letter: Support CUSD immersion program at May 10 board meeting

Letter to the editor

Posted by on Fri, May 4, 2007

I’m a parent of a child in the Spanish Immersion Program waitlist and we’d like to get the community’s support in urging the district to open a 3rd kindergarten class. This is a very important program in our school district and we feel strongly that it should be expanded for the coming years to meet the growing demands of our community.

In the past the school district has made the 3rd kindergarten class available if there was a need for it. They then reverted back to the 2 kindergarten classes when the demand wasn’t there. This fluctuating number of classes has proven to be difficult for the school district to maintain proper staffing. We are asking the school district to commit to increasing the number of kindergarten classes to 3 classes from here on out. There is a demand for the program which will sustain the 3 classes moving forward if the community sees the dedication of the school district to the program.

This year, there are more than enough kids on the waitlist to create a 3rd kindergarten. Why are they not creating a 3rd class?  As it is, there’s a great number of siblings that automatically make it into the kindergarten classes which then further decreases the chances of new families making it into Immersion. There were only 8 spots available for English speakers (even less for native Spanish speakers), that’s not very encouraging for the increasing number of families who want to get into the program in the future.

Join us at the school board meeting May 10 to support the 3rd kindergarten class.

Mitone Griffiths

CLICK link for copy of Mitone’s letter to the CUSD board

Dear

I am a parent on the waiting list for the Spanish Immersion program. I am writing to urge you to reconsider having a 3rd kindergarten class for this upcoming school year.

Importance Of The Immersion Program

Learning a second language is more important than ever. It will become even more so when our kindergartners enter into the workforce. Not only is learning a second language vital, it is also a wonderful way for our children to learn about different countries and cultures. The Spanish Immersion Program is not just a bilingual program but also a multicultural learning opportunity, a great way for our children to become aware of the world at large.

This is a way for our community to bridge the gap between the Spanish speaking and the English speaking families. It has the potential to bring our community together.

Demand Is Great

The Spanish Immersion program is such a positive and progressive program here at CUSD. I’m not surprised at the number of children on the waitlist (more than enough for a 3rd class). I know that other parents would have put their children on the program had they not been put off by the lottery system knowing there were only 2 classes.

Our community is growing and the number of children entering our schools continues to grow. As it stands now, there are a significant number of siblings in the current kindergarten classes. The program should be open to a wider spectrum of families. Having the 3rd class will reinforce your commitment to having the Immersion Program in our district.

When CUSD makes known their decision to permanently keep the 3rd class from now on, there should be no problem sustaining that 3rd kindergarten class with the notable increased demand for the program.  Starting with more kids in kindergarten will increase chances of retaining more students in higher grades.

Advantages To Growing The Immersion Program

  • The addition of new families will only strengthen the future of the program by increasing the number of students for the upper grades, therefore addressing the attrition issues.
  • More families will mean added support within the program and community.
  • New families bring more sources for much needed funds to the current fundraising pool.
  • Showing continued commitment and growth of program would attract quality teachers for upper grades. Knowing there’s a real commitment to growth and consistency by the district and community will be attractive to prospective teachers.
  • Strengthening the program will help retain the students in the CUSD. It’s being considered as an option to private schools. If not in the program the parents will choose to send to private instead.


We Ask For Your Support To Grow The Immersion Program

As prospective parents of the Spanish Immersion Program, we’re aware of the challenges our children face in the coming years. It’s not going to be an easy program especially when it comes to the upper grades, and the zero-period at Cunha. We are fully committed to stick it through and will continue to work together as parents to help our children stay the course.

There is a very dedicated group of parents at SIPA and we the prospective parents on the waitlist are committed to seeing the continued success and growth of this program. We look forward to working together to make this a successful program not just in the lower grades but the upper grades as well.

I respectfully ask that you seriously consider the addition of a 3rd kindergarten class to the program.

Sincerely,


Mitone Griffiths
Mia Griffiths’ mother


Are the Latino students benefiting? 42% of the Latino “English Language Learner” students, who have attended CUSD schools from Kindergarten thru High School, never become “Fluent English Proficient”!

There should be roughly 120 Latino students in High School now who went through the program. If it worked for them as described, they would be “Fluent English Proficient” achieving at the Proficient or above level in both English and Math. Are they and their parents supporting this program? Are the University bound Latino graduates of this program supporting this program?  Why are Spanish speaking parents required each year to sign a legal waver for their children?

For those who are interested in learning more on the details of the States “Two-Way Immersion”, the proper program name:
http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/ip/

There is no doubt to me that this is a good program for the Anglo students in this district. Spanish would not be my choice for a target language. It may be beneficial for social and cultural reasons for some Latino families who can provide educational support for their children beyond what is provided by CUSD.

The Two-Way Immersion program here is the originally developed by the State of California based on the Canadian education system where Bilingual, French and English, is required as the government’s two mandated languages. The US is not, at least yet, a mandated Bilingual country.

Coastside schools are infamous for their lack of success in teaching English to supposedly Spanish speaking students - the least effective schools in the county. Check out just how many other schools in the county use this type of program: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/ip/ap/directory.aspx and enter “San Mateo” for the county!

One is a k-8 Year Round school where they reach 80% English unlike CUSD and beats CUSD by 157 points in teaching English to Latinos.
The other, a k-5 like Hatch, which reaches only 50% English, beats CUSD by only 64 points in teaching English to Latinos.

Do you see a trend here? Does the term “Reverse Robin Hood” ring a bell?

Two last comments:

CUSD IS NOT: “growing and the number of children entering our schools continues to grow.”


Also, White enrolment in CUSD is now, for the first time (since the Spanish missions closed), a minority group - 48.4%

Ken

I disagree with Ken’s statement that “spanish would not be my choice of a target language”. Many job ads say Spanish speaking a plus. Coming from a family where we spoke Italian @ homei appreciate a 2nd language. Wish i spoke Spanish, lost most of my Italian as didnt speak it for years. In this country these days speaking Spanish or Chinese is a plus for any job applicant. Would like my grandkids to learn Spanish or Chinese for their future prospects.

Sam,

Actually, we generally agree: Mandarin 1st choice, Cantonese 2nd choice for early immersion. My kids benefited from their immersion in Greek - different alphabet and symbols - like little sponges. Either Chinese dialect(s) would ‘sharpen the ear’ which is difficult for an adult from the western world to master.

Ken