Metro Nashville Public Schools seeks to improve services for non-English speaking students

Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 10:05pm
Nicole Chaput-Guizani (Jude Ferrara/SouthComm)

Most of the students in Molly Smith’s kindergarten class hear a language other than English as they get out of bed, sit down for breakfast and strap on their backpacks before heading to Tusculum Elementary School on Nolensville Road. Maybe they catch the Spanish for “goodbye” or Burmese for “I love you” as they head out for the day. 

Yet here they are at 8:30 a.m. on a typical Tuesday, a largely minority classroom with a few white students intermingled, all sitting together on a wide square of carpet, eyes glued to their instructor. Together, the entire group — whether a child was born in Mexico, Burma or the United States — are all engaged in those crucial first lessons to learn how to read the English language, the building blocks established in one’s formative years that educators say are critical in determining a student’s long-term mastery of reading, writing and communication skills. 

Smith, young and energetic, sits low to the ground in a child-sized chair, a flip chart at her side. Leaning toward her students as she speaks, she has no trouble grabbing the attention of a remarkably well-behaved classroom. On this morning, she’s already written out eight short sentences on her board — the most her students have ever covered in one day. 

“Today is Tuesday, January 25, 2011,” the top sentence reads. It’s followed by “We will go to Art today with Mrs. Knotts.” 

A dry-erase marker in her hand, Smith points to the capital letter denoting the beginning of the first sentence. “Go, go, go, go,” she shouts, underlining the words before halting at the period. “Stop,” Smith says. Then she performs the same exercise on the next phrase. Students take turns circling what they call “popcorn words,” a memorable label to describe the new terms recently added to their vocabularies. 

The lesson turns to colors. “Mohammed, what color is this?” Smith asks, holding up one of her pens. 

Mohammed stares blankly. He can’t find the right word. But his peers, hands raised, are happy to help. “Black,” they say in unison, prompting Mohammed to chime in as well. Now he understands. 

Not long ago, the class setting at Tusculum looked different. And the change is more than just the product of Nashville’s well-documented multicultural growth following Davidson County’s influx of Mexican and refugee groups over the past 15 years. 

New this year, Metro Nashville Public Schools fully integrated elementary students who have limited English proficiency with traditional students of English-language backgrounds. The academic term for this steadily growing demographic, those with limited English skills, are English Language Learners. And at a school like Tusculum, where this is about two-thirds of the student population, the effect has been profound. Last year, Tusculum’s English learners carried out their studies in self-contained classrooms, interacting with the rest of the student body only during art, music and physical education classes. Today — as in Smith’s class and other elementary classrooms across the district — they are in general education classes taught by those licensed to teach English as a second language. Middle and high school students still take special English language developmental classes apart from their peers but commingle in other courses. 

Embracing inclusion, and steering away from isolation at the elementary level, is just one shift in the district’s ongoing innovations to improve the way public schools — elementary, middle and high — address the needs of English learners, a group that’s proved central to Metro’s inability to meet federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks since the law’s inception. 

With a new executive director of the district’s Office of English Learners in place, Metro schools are stressing the importance of teaching English learners their new language through other subjects, trying to foster a cultural change whereby the entire district feels accountable for English learners, and enabling English learners to attend schools closer to home. 

There are no easy ways around the complex matter of educating kids in the U.S. who lack basic English skills. But it’s an issue that has fast become one of the greatest callings for a Southern school system that critics still label as failing. 

A greater challenge 

Nowhere in Tennessee is the challenge of educating a diverse, non-English-speaking population more pronounced than Nashville. In fact, nowhere else is even close. 

According to the most recent data, 22 percent of Metro’s 78,400 students have a non-English language background. Next on the list of Tennessee’s school systems is Memphis City Schools, with just 8 percent. Though Memphis’ enrollment is more than 30,000 students greater than Metro’s, it has half as many students with non-English backgrounds. 

“One of the challenges is that we’re so different from everyone else in the state,” Director of Schools Jesse Register said. “We’ve got about 30 percent of the English learner population in the state of Tennessee. We’re pretty much alone in being that diverse and having that large a population. So there’s not a lot of other districts that understand what we’re doing there. So, it makes it a little bit different.”

In Metro, 13 percent of the total student body has limited English proficiency, and 10 percent are considered active English learners. In just the past year, Metro’s English-learner subgroup increased by 800 students. The vast majority of English learners are also economically disadvantaged, qualifying for the federal free and reduced lunch program. The Overton High School cluster, which includes Tusculum elementary, has the largest English-learner population, followed closely by the Glencliff High School cluster. Both are fed by highly diverse neighborhoods of southern Davidson County. 

There are nearly 100 native languages represented in the halls of Metro schools. More than 10,600 students speak Spanish, and nearly 1,800 come from homes where Arabic is the primary spoken language. Next on the list are Kurdish, Somali and Vietnamese, respectively. 

None of these students receive instruction in their native language. State law has what amounts to an “English-only” edict when it comes to classroom instruction. When a teacher receives a license to teach English learners, being bilingual isn’t a requirement. English learners are required to receive at least one hour of direct services. But whether an English learner is immersed in an elementary school setting or isolated in a high school developmental language class, their instruction comes in English. 

“It’s not a matter of whether you’re teaching them in their native language,” Register said, alluding to both the state law and the integrated model adopted in elementary schools. “It’s a matter of whether they’re incorporated into classrooms with kids who primarily speak English. I think that’s a good transition for us to make. I do think we were probably erring too far the other way, but now I think we’re getting very much on target, on course.

“We just have to understand that it takes a little bit longer when you’re teaching children how to speak English and getting them to pass a test at the same time,” he said. 

Therein lies one of the district’s biggest problems. No Child Left Behind — which President Obama and Congress might soon begin to overhaul — gives Metro’s English-learner newcomers a one-year grace period before they are subject to its proficiency standards. Almost universally, Nashville educators object to the short time frame. This year’s test results, released three weeks ago, showed that students with limited English proficiency missed benchmarks at the K-8 level in both math and reading/language arts. In high school, English learners fell short on reading/language proficiency standards. 

English learners, who tend to move often, also fall short when it comes to graduation. While their rate last year was only 1.5 percent lower than the 83 percent overall, officials are bracing for that to drop by as much as half as new standards are enacted requiring them to graduate in four years rather than five, as it is now. 

“What I see happening with the English-learner population is that they’re learning a lot, they’re learning how to speak English and they’re learning content, too,” Register said. “There’s just more to learn, and the flexibility of time is not as great as what I would like to see before we start being held accountable for them [passing] standardized tests based on No Child Left Behind standards.” 

New philosophy 

Register has highlighted the performance of the district’s English-learner population in one of the his nine “Transformational Leadership Groups,” which are part of a broader effort to engineer a turnaround at Metro schools. Each group covers a different topic, and representatives of each have made presentations at school board meetings over the past several months. The English-learner group unveiled its progress in December. 

Many of the new philosophies in addressing Metro’s English learners come from a recent study by George Washington University, which worked with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center and the Tennessee Department of Education. The document, exhaustive like most academic reports, could become the roadmap for reforming the English-learner program in the future. 

Listed atop recommendations is to integrate English learning on all levels. The appraisal reads: “One of the most common misconceptions among educators of ELLs is the assumption that students who have not yet mastered English are not capable of high-level thinking.” 

In an interview with The City Paper, Nicole Chaput-Guizani, who oversees Metro’s program, stressed the ongoing effort to alter curriculum to ensure English learners are “taught content at the same time as language domains.” So far, the process has begun in middle schools, with high schools to follow. 

“It makes sense, but it wasn’t something that was focused on before,” Chaput-Guizani said. “Now we’re really focused on it.” 

A native of Massachusetts with a background in accounting, Chaput-Guizani worked her way up in the office she now manages, first as an English language development specialist — coaching teachers — and later the interim executive director. The interim label was removed last summer. Register considers her part of the district’s reform. 

Chaput-Guizani, whose office is in a separate building near the district’s administrative headquarters on Bransford Avenue, talks about breaking down the “silos” that have historically contained various education departments when it comes to teaching English learners. For example, if a teacher is working on a social studies project for English learners, the lesson plan should come from a collaboration between the Office of English Learners and leaders of the social studies content area. The professional development of English-learner teachers needs to happen through that same partnership. She said there’s also an effort to share best practices between her department and the heads of special education, as well as leaders of the district’s elementary, middle and high schools. 

“The collaboration is really important, not only because it helps teachers put the pieces together, but also as a district to say, ‘We’re all accountable for these English-learners. It’s not just the EL office. It’s every teacher, every principal, every administrator in the district who is accountable for the success of our English learners and their families,’ ” she said. “And that’s happening. It’s really exciting.” 

Another major departure from tradition is the ongoing effort to enable English learners to attend schools closer to home. In the past, they’ve often had to ride buses across town to reach a school with ESL-licensed teachers. The district has already started expanding English-learner services to mores schools, and only about 130 English learners today remain enrolled in schools outside their zones. By next year, all English learners are expected to attend schools within their zones. 

“This is huge,” Chaput-Guizani said. “Next year, every student will be able to receive services at their neighborhood school, which is important for parent outreach.” 

Now, Metro’s 43 translators serve as the primary liaison between schools and parents who lack English proficiency. They don’t translate coursework for students, but rather communicate things like report cards, letters, notes and messages from teachers back to students’ homes. 

Chaput-Guizani said district officials hope to create a multicultural outreach program, modeled on a similar approach in Denver, where smaller, Metro-backed focus groups — Spanish- or Arabic-speaking, for instance — could work with individual families. She said she’s working with Metro’s communications team to make this happen, but acknowledged it’s in the “very early planning stages.” 

“Right now, we’re doing what we can,” Chaput-Guizani said. “We have our 43 translators. We try to translate as much as we can in different languages, but us translating something in writing isn’t necessarily what parents need. Sometimes they need more.” 

Through a partnership with Belmont University, the district also plans to take advantage of a $150,000 grant from the state to offer life and literacy training to parents who don’t speak English. One night each week, over the course of two-and-a-half months, parents can go to McMurray Middle School to learn basic things such as using an ATM, conducting a job interview and interacting at a bank. The plan is to bring the program, known as LEAF — Linking, Educating and Advancing Families — to other
clusters in the future. 

Moving target 

Such advancements are supposed to help address issues that come naturally with a group that is predominantly poor and generally new to an area. 

Diane Chumley, principal at Tusculum for the past six years, said one of the greatest challenges in educating the school’s English-learner population is how often those students move. She said the school’s mobility rate stood at 60 percent last year. 

“It means our kids come in and out, in and out,” she said. “Who we start out with in kindergarten and first grade are not even who we end up with by third and fourth grade. We’ve gotten several new kids in this week. We got several new kids in last week. They just move back and forth. 

“In reality, I think a lot of it is the economically disadvantaged [factor],” she said. “They move to different apartments where they can afford to live. And then a lot of them will say, ‘I’m going to go back to Mexico for a month. I have a family emergency.’ Well, then they miss a month of school.” 

Chumley said her English-learner students are often sidetracked by long winter breaks and even longer summer recesses spent outside the classroom. She said
test scores in August are never as high as the previous May. 

“They don’t keep what they’ve learned,” she said. “I feel like we take five steps forward, two steps back, five steps forward, two steps back. I think it’s just due to the fact that it’s such a long time that they go back home. No one speaks English, so they all of sudden don’t have any vocabulary spoken to them that we’ve been trying to teach them.” 

Cesar Muedas, a standard presence at school board meetings who served on Mayor Karl Dean’s Project for Student Success and also applied for the position held by Chaput-Guizani, said he believes Metro’s English-learner services have made “incredible progress” in the past five years. He said he recalls a period when “schools would
do everything in their power not to receive ELL students.” 

“That doesn’t happen now,” Muedas said. “That’s a very good thing that Mr. Register is doing. Now the philosophy is, wherever there is an ELL student, the school that he’s zoned for will serve the student.” 

In general, Muedas said the district has also improved in addressing the needs of English learners. 

“There’s a more proactive evaluation of who needs the services and how early, which was not happening before,” he said. “Between three or five years ago, there was a clear change in the philosophy and the approach. The recruitment of teachers
improved. The services improved. And within the last two years, the ELL department
has been looking outside the state for new methods and programs.” 

Where it lags, Muedas said, is funding. He wonders why the English-learner population can’t galvanize the public’s attention for fundraising the way special education has. 

“The money that comes directly from the standard budget is not enough,” he said. “The example to follow is special education. … There’s a lot of fundraising going on for special education. There are dozens of nonprofits that directly or indirectly do fundraising to benefit special education students. That doesn’t happen with ELL.”

Though No Child Left Behind creates a narrative that suggests failure, Juan Canedo, executive director of Nashville’s Progresso Community Center, said there’s an “exaggerated” notion that English-learner students aren’t making progress in learning English. 

“Children, particularly through our community organization, we have seen children speaking English quite well,” Canedo said. “It takes them several months, even years, but some kids start English perfectly. I think that shows that this has been working. 

“It’s a process, obviously,” he said of the changes Metro schools needs to implement
to make greater gains. “I think the step by step way they’re approaching this, the outreach to ELL parents and students, I think it’s beginning to create an example to solve this unique situation.”  

46 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 1/31/11 at 6:11

What a nice book to read on this subject: Since we invite
all these different groups to come to Nashville, maybe the
sponsoring organizations that help with bringing in these
new residents can help with something other than just a
bus or plane ticket to Nashville! Pity the children of long
time citizen's that have to sit through these classes with
others that are so much further behind.

By: nature on 1/31/11 at 7:32

I agree. Why slow down my child's learning because their parents do not know the language or do not want to learn the language. It is important that ENGLISH is spoken at home and is taught in the home. ENGLISH is the language we speak in the United States of America. ENGLISH is the language of buisness, learning, government, etc. I do not want to get frustrated, so, I will end. Thanks and have a great day.

By: Booman on 1/31/11 at 8:08

How nice, let's do spend the extra dollars to teach them our language, that is IF they want to learn it. If they truly wanted to be Citizens then they would follow the process, come here legally and would really work hard to make sure they learning. I am tired of bending over backwards to help people out when all they come here for is to make enough money to bring in more illegals. Spend those dollars on stopping illegal immigration and quit feeling sorry for these people!!

By: Nitzche on 1/31/11 at 9:06

Sharia law is next

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 9:24

Some very paranoid and narrow minded people posting here. None of you give any thought as to how well the teachers that teach these students are doing.

By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 9:47

I am not narrow minded nor paranoid. I was born here. I do not have a problem with someone who wants to live here, BUT they should come through the proper channels. That way we would get rid of most of the terrorists from other countries. Of course, except for the ones that were born here and have turned traitors to our way of live and our freedoms.

By: govskeptic on 1/31/11 at 9:55

Titan1 is the shadow voice of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
This subject or anyother that fit within their perview!

By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 10:01

That explains his or her narrow minded comment.

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 10:03

At least I'm not blaming kindergarten children for someone else's problems and I do give the teachers the credit they deserve. People, the sky is not falling, that is just rain.

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 10:09

If immigrants were sincere about learning English & helping their children speak English, you would hear more of them speaking it in public! You DON"T.

By: brrrrk on 1/31/11 at 10:12

For all you people bitchin' about illegal aliens..... just how many of you have knowingly hired an illegal directly or indirectly (through another company) because they were cheaper?

"This is America, I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian." Stephen Colbert... AND a lot of Tennesseans it appears.

By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 10:12

Did I say anything bad about the children or the teachers? uh no!!! The children are innocent and are not at fault. So if they need to learn the language they should be put in a special class and not hold back the children who already speak English. IN going to school in Nashville if you wanted to learn a different language you went to a different class each day to learn it. But then we were not here illegally. Just good ole fashion home grown!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 10:15

Good old fashion home grown? LOL! I rest my case!

By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 10:17

I have owned a farm and hired people to work it in the summer, but never an illegal but other farmers did. I have worked for companies who hired housekeeping that were illegals. So you see All who hire them are breaking the law and should go to jail was well.

By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 10:19

If you really want to get technical about all these my family was part of the first Americans. And look what happened to them because they did not protect their borders!!!!!!!!!

By: brrrrk on 1/31/11 at 10:31


For what it's worth, I have no problem with using immigrants for migrant farm work. In fact, there's a long tradition in this country of allowing immigrants into this country for that type of work. As I recall, there used to be a time when migrant workers were registered by our country and encouraged to come to our country for the specific purpose of doing migrant farm work. Immigrant workers picked fruit in the orchards close to where I lived some 40 plus years ago and it was no problem. The orchards even went so far as to provide them with fairly nice places to live and a few luxuries to boot during the harvest. These were purely seasonal workers who retreated back across the border once the "picking" seasons were over. The problem happened when non-seasonal employers decided that they could make more profit replacing American workers with immigrant workers. If you truly want to stop illegal aliens then you MUST go after to employers, no matter how big or small... and the punishment should be such that they are faced with the possibility of going out of business. First offense, a good size fine, second offense, you're out business.... PERIOD.

By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 10:52

I agree. But now this is a big business and everyone knows that the government is NOT going to step in because they are involved in it as well. All treaties of open borders with with Canada and Mexico. This is all. Any American try to go to Mexico and do what the Mexicans are doing to us and they would be deported or thrown in jail.

By: brrrrk on 1/31/11 at 11:09

wolfwalker said

"I agree. But now this is a big business and everyone knows that the government is NOT going to step in because they are involved in it as well."

It's not just big business.... look around you. Take a peek in the kitchen of the next mom and pop restaurant you go to, or the painters that small time paint contractors hire, or the roofers that your local contract roofer hires, etc. etc.. The bottom line is that we've all become addicted to the cheap labor that comes along with immigrant workers, and now we're paying for it. And until we face that, nothing will get fixed. We're ALL part of the problem.

By: revo-lou on 1/31/11 at 11:45

[By: wolfwalker on 1/31/11 at 10:52
Any American try to go to Mexico and do what the Mexicans are doing to us and they would be deported or thrown in jail.]

But, we are not like Mexico, or any other country, and why would you want us to be?

By: iTiSi on 1/31/11 at 11:54

WOW! I was beginning to think there was no end to this article!!! Write a book willya!
Wonder how much this is costing the city. You just know the majority of these students are the children of illegal immigrants. Florida just found out (Matt Reed article in 1/25/2011) that public education for illegal immigrant children is costing that state $550million per year. Including everything else they
are costing Florida $700million per year. When is this paper or the other liberal rag going to write an article on what they are costing TN taxpayers?

By: nashtnman on 1/31/11 at 11:54

Illegal immigrants are not cheap labor. They drain our healthcare and government welfare programs and cost legal citizens millions and millions of dollars. THERE IS NO CHEAP LABOR FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. If the students, and their families and parents, are here illegal why in the hell are we spending tax dollars for special classes to teach them how to speak English? Illegal is illegal. Send illegal’s back to their own country and allow them to LEGALLY enter the country before spending tax dollars on anything, welfare included. There are enough lazy career welfare families already draining our tax dollars. We pay social security all our lives so a bunch of self-concerned politicians can just give it away to ILLEGAL aliens while our senior citizens starve and go without needed medications. This has got to stop.

By: Nitzche on 1/31/11 at 12:05

Barry says we need a Summit

By: revo-lou on 1/31/11 at 12:07

[By: iTiSi on 1/31/11 at 11:54
Including everything else they
are costing Florida $700million per year. ]

WOW, less than 1% of the state's annual budget! I wonder how much they contribute in sales tax, and property tax (cause even if they rent, the property owner pays tax), since those are the two ways the FLA collects tax?

By: revo-lou on 1/31/11 at 12:11

[nashtnman on 1/31/11 at 11:54
Illegal immigrants are not cheap labor. They drain our healthcare and government welfare programs and cost legal citizens millions and millions of dollars. THERE IS NO CHEAP LABOR FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. If the students, and their families and parents, are here illegal why in the hell are we spending tax dollars for special classes to teach them how to speak English? Illegal is illegal. Send illegal’s back to their own country and allow them to LEGALLY enter the country before spending tax dollars on anything, welfare included. There are enough lazy career welfare families already draining our tax dollars. We pay social security all our lives so a bunch of self-concerned politicians can just give it away to ILLEGAL aliens while our senior citizens starve and go without needed medications. This has got to stop.]

Have you ever tried to enroll a child in a metro school? I defy you to show me how a child gets into a metro school without proper documentation!

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 12:17

Whether any of you like it or not, these children ARE here and the teachers are doing the best they can and doing it very well despite the lack of support from some in their community! These children deserve to get the best education possible just like anyone else!

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 12:19

It is so sad that some people can't stand someone else if they are not exactly like them.

By: brrrrk on 1/31/11 at 12:51

nashtnman said

"Illegal immigrants are not cheap labor. They drain our healthcare and government welfare programs and cost legal citizens millions and millions of dollars."

Better check your stats there buddy. You want to know what the biggest drain is on our government resources.... rural white poverty. And, ask yourself this, why is it that conservative states consistently receive more in Federal funding per Federal taxes paid than non-conservative states? Check out...., "Federal Taxes Paid vs. Federal Spending Received by State"

By: Loretta Bridge on 1/31/11 at 1:17

If I go to live in France, Germany or anywhere else legally or illegally I don't think they will take their governments money to teach me to speak there language. It would be up to me to pay for classes to learn that language.
We would all be better served if schools would just teach our already English speaking kids top speak PROPER English. "Where you at" etc should not be heard. Before the 80s
even the poorest kids spoke proper English. Teacher would not accept anything else in the class room. Now teachers don't even correct kids during class time. Guess they are too afraid of being shot or stabbed when they walk to the parking lot.

By: brrrrk on 1/31/11 at 1:33

Loretta Bridge said

"If I go to live in France, Germany or anywhere else legally or illegally I don't think they will take their governments money to teach me to speak there language."

They don't need to. Guess why? Because the majority of Europeans are multilingual (they know more than one language) from the git go. And while we're on the topic of language... how about all those little European and Asian communities within our country that continue to talk "their" native language? Every big city has a "little Italy", or "Chinatown", or "little Russia". Come on folks, the world is changing, it's becoming more multicultural..... if we stand steadfastly and stubbornly to the idea that we don't need to join the rest of the world and if we don't jump in feet first, we do so at our own risk.

By: gofer on 1/31/11 at 3:03

There are no undocumented illegal aliens. They have all kinds of documents...just happens they are fake. See what happens if you get caught with a fake SSN. Look up the penalty.

There are illegal aliens double dipping in multiple counties and states. One illegal was getting 8 checks a month from the govt. They are extremely proficient in working the system. Any amount of taxes they pay are a paltry sum in comparison to the overall costs. L.A. county and the entire state of Ca. are spending billions on illegal alien welfare. The projected costs are nearly equal to their entire deficit.

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 3:08

Was behind a hispanic woman in the grocery check out last week. She tried the 3rd. food stamp card before she found 1 that would cover her purchases. Wonder how many more she had?

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:16

I had a white woman ask me in the grocery store the other day to help her to see if a certain item was covered on her food stamps.

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:18

With that said, what does any of this have to do with a kindergarten teacher doing her job? I thought that was what this story was about.

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 3:30

It has to do with social service sucking Illegals that are also costing schools millions teaching their anchor babies English, while dumbing down the classes for legal children.,

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:39

So, you know those students are illegal?

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 3:42

Do you know they aren't?

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 3:46

They have to speak fairly good English to pass the citizenship test. If they have done that and are so proud to be in this Country, why don't their children speak English?

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:47

Benefit of the doubt.Also, all children are precious.

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:51

There are many children of this age who do not speak English but their parents do.

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:54

The parents may not speak perfect English and my use their native language at home most of the time.

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 3:57

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 3:54
The parents may not speak perfect English and my use their native language at home most of the time.
Then IMO that would be parents that care less about whether their children do good in school or not! They should have used the time at home for all to learn English.

By: TITAN1 on 1/31/11 at 4:08

It is better than having to put up with unruly white and black kids in school. My point is, these children are innocent and I praise the teachers who teach them. Some parents of all races don't make the right decisions at home. I'd rather they be taught English in class than having a teacher put up with a bunch of unruly kids that don't have parents that care enough about them to make them behave at home.

By: bfra on 1/31/11 at 4:54

This wasn't about behavior, there are children in every school, of all nationalities that misbehave. This is about teaching! With children in the classroom that do not speak English, is slows down the learning of all children.

By: HelpThem on 2/1/11 at 2:34

You don't have to be a citizen to be in the country legally. A lack of English proficiency in no way indicates whether someone entered the U.S. legally or illegally. Also, If any of us moved to a country (legally), I think most of us would still speak English at home even while our kids learn a new language at school.

By: luvslife51 on 2/1/11 at 11:01

So the costs associated with taking care of the illegals who do not pay taxes....are small? give ne a LACounty alone...600 million /year...
In Missouri..the government in some of the cities require that you be a legal citizen and they do not provide language services./ of course the illegals do not flock there...
All of this comes down to money....sales for companies etc...the people in the USA who are being taxed to death are not even being helped with this burden..and how many municipalities are going bankrupt...many ..why should we take on the burden of this ?...we have our hands full of the people who are already here....this cannot last...and in Washington , govt was never meant to do and care for the people totally....but then we have a President who is not even in tune with this...

God Bless the USA....because we need it

By: 1 gals opinion on 2/3/11 at 8:39

You are constantly reading how education in the US is lagging behind education in other countries. No wonder, when we spend so much of our resources and time on illegal aliens. We dumb down our own children by not teaching them and concentrating on illegals. Don't put them in classes with children who already speak English and who need to be learning more. Illegals are bankrupting this country. They forge any documents they need to get services which deserving citizens can't get. It should be illegal to hire an illegal alien and the punishment to companies who hire them should be big enough to discourage them from hiring them. Every job which has been brought about by construction, road work and bridge building is taken by the aliens. These are not jobs which would not be taken by US citizens who are out of work if the aliens were not hired first. How many Tennesseans were taken off of TennCare, by Bredeson, as a cost cutting measure who deserved to be on it and replaced by illegals and their anchor babies and their families. The government is so removed from any feeling for the US citizens it just pathetic. They only see the aliens as another vote.