Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why Florida Is Fighting The U.S. Education Department Over English Learners

Althea Valle teaches a class of ELL's. She says of the new federal requirement, "I think it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the schools to get these kids where we think they should be."

Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

Althea Valle teaches a class of ELL's. She says of the new federal requirement, "I think it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the schools to get these kids where we think they should be."

A 10th grader born in Haiti struggles to read in his class at Godby High School in Tallahassee. The student is more comfortable with Haitian Creole than English. Teacher Althea Valle has students of various nationalities trying to master the language.

“It’s a challenge,” Valle says. “There’s a lot of gesturing, and you know sometimes I feel like I’m onstage and sometimes I have to be onstage to make myself understood.”

Valle is the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) coordinator for Leon County schools. Her developmental language class is offered as an elective for students who want the extra help, like Anas Al-Humiari from Yemen. His native language is Arabic, and he’s been studying English for 5 years.

“First of all, the words are the main things that get me down and the time, me trying to understand the sentence and what is the article or text actually means,” Al-Humiari says, trying to find the right words.

The Florida Legislature passed a law last spring that says the standardized test scores of English-language learners, known as ELLs, will count toward a school’s overall grade after two years of instruction. But federal law requires the test scores to count after just one year.

Imagine sitting in a math or science class trying to learn the lesson, but not understanding English. That’s the situation for many of Florida’s ELLs. Valle says most of them need three to five years of language instruction before they can be proficient on standardized assessments.

“After two years, it’s difficult to say that students will actually achieve this level,” Valle says. “So after one year, we can say they definitely won’t achieve this level.”

Like most states, Florida operates under a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. The waiver allows the state to use its own grading and accountability rules instead of adhering to federal guidelines under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Now Florida is being told its waiver is in jeopardy because the test scores of ELLs should count toward a school’s overall grade – and teacher evaluations – after just one year of instruction. School grades determine which schools get bonus money, and which ones could be shut down.

In August, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told reporters in Miami that Florida’s Hispanic students lead the nation in national assessments, advanced placement courses, and graduation rates.

“It is impossible to think that with the state having this much success with its students why in the world the federal government would want to micromanage, especially when you consider that this is a policy that is working,” Stewart said.

The Miami-Dade school district would be disproportionately impacted by the change. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says 72,000 of his students are learning English.

“To recognize that after one single year of English-language instruction, a child who does not speak English would be ready to sit for an exam and demonstrate equal proficiency to one who was born in a community that spoke English is not only irrational,” Carvalho said. “It is unfair and unreasonable.”

Carvalho says aggressive federal policies are hurting children and schools.

“Here’s what we have discovered. If you provide an additional year of language instruction, those children in Miami-Dade get to demonstrate 28 percent increased proficiency after an additional year. That is significant,” Carvalho said.

In early September, the state sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan giving him 30 days to reverse his decision. Duncan says the progress of ELLs needs to be measured so teachers can help them improve. But ELLs are already assessed to ensure that students and schools are making adequate yearly progress. The difference is that their test scores don’t impact schools grades right away.

About 10 percent of Florida’s public school students are ELLs. That’s approximately 265,000 students. Teacher Althea Valle says testing them — trying to figure out how much they know — is tough already.

“If this is to help the students to acquire English faster or to make teachers accountable, I just don’t see how – I think it’s counterproductive,” Valle says.

In an email, Commissioner Stewart told us the federal government has placed a grossly unfair burden on Florida’s students, and the state will take legal action against the U.S. Department of Education.

On Friday, the Governor’s Office announced it has asked Secretary Duncan to designate the Office of Administrative Law Judges to conduct a hearing into the matter. Here is the letter.

Comments

  • Carlos Gonzalez

    Carvalho is a blowhard and is never short on words. He has over-politciczed the school system and is a self-promoter that is only championing his political agenda.
    His empty-headed chatter and attenton seeking is disgusting.
    Even more disturbing is, as someone that is supposed to be a role-model for children, he was reportedly involved in a romantic adulterous relationship with a local news reporter covering the school system. He lied about the affair which speaks to his character and morals, yet he constantly uses his soapbox to scream and yell about ethics and morality. He is a faux and his reputation within the school system is well known.
    Agreed. Public education needs an overhaul but having the likes of Carvalho, a known cheater, chime in and be the mouth piece begs the question of why we are in this predicament in the first place.

  • zzyzx

    Arne Duncan has no freaking idea what the hell he is doing when it comes to education and he needs to resign NOW! He is a freaking idiot

    • Brenda Harrell

      He is doing this on orders from the narcissistic pathological lying muslim traitor in the White House.

  • Louis S

    The parents of these kids should have made sure that they understood and could speak english before even coming to this country.

    • Josh B Gillie

      That is not necessarily a real possibility in some places. The article is quite correct in stating that it is unreasonable to expect a student to pass a standardized test in fields like math or science after only one year of instruction. I have been studying Hebrew for about a year and I can just barely read a children’s book.

      • Hash

        Who gives a $hit what your learning level is or what you are studying. As long as you are paying for it.. No wonder my taxes are through the roof. The school district is 60-70% of all tax bills.glad to hear it is being spent wisely.

        • Teacher X

          It is being spent wisely. Otherwise you have an underclass of people with nothing to lose in stealing, killing, and doing other mayhem. Most gang members are not illegal but legal born Americans.

          • lc

            I live in FL and we have a HUGE problem with illegals. Our criminal system is on overload. America as a great country is gone….when we lost our educational institutions ability to educate, we went down the tubes fast. We’re in the trainwreck stage now.

          • QD

            I live in Florida too and “illegals” here are not a problem. There are plenty of schools where people (legal or illegal, doesn’t matter) learn to speak English–adults for a small fee. The students are earnest and hard working and want to speak well. The real problems in the schools are the kids whose parents were 13 when they were born, and the parents are just kids who don’t know how to teach their kids or to be diligent. Problem with the human race is we have problems. And we have the wherewithal to find kind and helpful ways to solve problems in a win/win.

          • lc

            Where I used to live on the east coast, we had over 50% indigent children in our schools. That’s pretty much mission impossible for any teacher. Unfortunately the good teachers are leaving the profession. My town in FL on the west coast has gone from a quaint little burg to a walmart, a couple chain drug stores and grocers who now have to lock up the baby formulas. Most of the small businesses are gone except a few new ones who provide tattoo services, custom truck accessories and money changing services. Our car dealership is now a used car lot. Our gift shops and antique shops are all gone and our wine store and most restaurants closed. Oh, yeah, our big banking center turned into rural health services. i’ve been here 12 years and am leaving. It used to be a nice little town. Now it looks more like a third world country.

      • Christina G.

        Are you using Rosetta Stone? I’ve heard it makes a huge difference in speed of learning. I’ve also concluded that the worst way to study a new language is to read the new language. Reading should come only after you’re fluent. The reason most foreigners can’t get rid of their accents (in whatever new language) is because they learned the language by reading it first, or reading it while learning it. Bad.

        • Teacher X

          Something wrong with an accent? Those bothersome illegals with their non-English ability, now are so inconsiderate to not get rid of their accents. Damn those illegals, they are so evil!

          • lc

            Oh, come on.

          • Christina G.

            There is no mention of English or illegals in my comment. Rosetta Stone is available in many languages.

          • QD

            Rosetta Stone is a fine tool. Open Book is excellent too and helps a lot with pronunciation. There’s another software, EASY which is another great tool. There are many language aids on the web today too. But it’s especially good to learn to respond to others in-person.

          • sortanormal

            Accents are fine but we all want to fit in and communicate.
            I agree, Christina. People are taught to read and write via grammar rules, because that’s easier and easier to measure. Sadly, that cripples their speaking, because when they don’t know the music of the language or the pronunciation of words, everything is done reading and pronouncing in their native language. So, by the time they try to listen and speak, they are already crippled in language.
            NB that we all learned to speak English by listening to our mother and watching her and the family. Eventually we spoke. Then, after a few years when we that language is anchored in our brains, we learn how the words look and learn to read. Then write.
            English teaching in this country is all according to metrics and convenience when it needs to be more intuitive.

        • QD

          When you read first, you pronounce in your native language. Think of your kids (or you): first you listen, then you speak, then you get some syntax (from “me want milk” to “I want milk”) then you learn to read and finally, to write. And maybe you learn some grammar. Schools like to teach reading, writing and grammar first, and don’t care much about speaking or pronunciation. Pity.

          • Christina G.

            I agree 100%. The reason so many people have such heavy accents when they speak a foreign language first is because reading was introduced too early in the learning curve. That’s why 90% of English speakers mispronounce “Mexico”.

        • sortanormal

          Rosetta Stone is an excellent computer product. The Florida Schools (where I teach immigrants to speak English) only get credit for listening, reading and writing, so the classes are focused on teaching that but they are not paid to teach the students to speak.

          My specialty is teaching pronunciation and speaking. I really wish I could start all students with listening and speaking, because when they read, if they don’t know what the English pronunciation is, they mispronounce it in their native language. Then they have a habit that is difficult to break. (their language is fossilized).

          BTW, a majority of my students are Asian or South American with some Africans, Eastern Europeans, and Middle Easterners. Most people assume our students are from Mexico. Not.

          The immigrants who come to public school (I teach adults) are eager to learn and devoted to studying, behaving and learning so they can have a better life. Just like most our ancestors.

      • sue

        but are you learning at someone else’s expense, demanding that you be accommodated?

    • Catjudo

      Learning the language beforehand is nice, but it doesn’t always work out that way. A friend of mine came to Florida as a twelve year old refugee after she and her mom fled Castro’s Cuba illegally. She had family in and around Miami, but she didn’t speak a word of English. Everyone helped her learn something before she started school, but she had to pick it up as she went along, and it was hard for her. In the end, though, she learned the language (to the point that her English is almost flawless and without accent), became a U.S. citizen, and married an English-speaking American of Northern Italian decent, albeit one who speaks fluent Castilian Spanish. I’m not saying you’re wrong, as knowing some language certainly helps, but some of the people I’ve known haven’t even had the opportunity to learn before they came here.

      • SweetLavender

        Same with my dad. He came here from the Azores in 1971 legally not speaking very little english at age 12. His teachers wouldn’t even help him learn english! They just failed him if he didn’t write or speak correctly and never bothered to help him improve.

      • Dani

        Just why do all the illegals expect teachers or other Americans to know and interpret for every foreign language out there? It is not the job of teachers to know any language but English, even if it’s American English, but the illegals come and here expect services they do not pay for and privileges they have not earned. They are criminals and should not expect things they cannot even get from their own government.

    • Christina G.

      Yeah, right. If they are coming here illegally, I doubt they are a bit concerned if they are inconveniencing anyone in America by not speaking the language.

      • Teacher X

        Yeah, those evil illegals coming to America to inconvenience you. I hope you and louise are not Christians. With this attitude toward poor people struggling with life, you bet Jesus is going to talk to you. BTW, many of the Central America immigrants coming to my classroom the last 2 years do have some English skills. They learned them in their countries. However, unlike you, it takes a few years to get proficient in a new language.

        • lc

          No person has a right to enter another country illegally. Anyone who does is a criminal. If I enter a country without proper documentation, I would be deported.

        • sue

          and they learn on our dollar. Havent put a thing in but sitting with their hand out, compromising the level of education you have worked for your child to receive, sucking dry all of the resources’.

        • Christina G.

          There are plenty of “poor” people in Central America who choose to stay in their home country by choice. In fact, according to several studies, the illegals coming from Mexico and South America are the middle class in their home countries, since it takes considerable funds to get here. Most are coming here to raise their standard of living, not because they are starving or persecuted in their home countries.

    • Teacher X

      Really? Come on be real! Many of these people face severe poverty and limited resources. Put yourself in their shoes and tell me how easy it is?

      • sue

        no one said it was easy but charity begins at home and we are in debt up to our eye balls.you cannot give what you don’t have….they are stealing from the futures of your grandchildren.

      • Christina G.

        I see you’ve been drinking the “undocumented workers” Kool-aid. You need to educate yourself about life in Mexico and South America. There are MANY “poor” people who gladly choose to stay in their homeland. Most illegals are coming from the middle classes of their home countries. It takes considerable funds to get here. Where do you think that money came from? I’ve known several illegals in my lifetime and, without exception, they came from the middle class of their homeland. They came here for a higher quality of life, not because life was unbearable where they came from.

        • GRITS

          Christina, Do you actually think it is free to LIVE here? There is so much poverty right here in the USA. Take your money and give it to them. When my children cannot afford college, not OK. Illegal aliens send $414B back to their home country per year. Let them pay taxes to use the roads, the education system, the police/fire protection, housing, and more. Come on. How about taxpayers stop paying taxes and you can teach them for free? Trillions of dollars in debt, how long do you think this country can sustain this? For a teacher, hmmmm, not so smart!

  • giggi

    And I am sick of people sneaking in our Country, we must get them out! And we speak english only in America. ….Period!!! We must deport all illegal aliens and illegals that over stay their stay in America! Report – Deport – don’t hire anyone without a license!

    • Arthur Larason

      they don’t have to sneak in any more, the great traitor is bringing in 100K Hateians and 75K jihadists Prepare for war…HERE

    • Josh B Gillie

      Who said anything about these students being illegal? They and their parents could just as easily be recent legal immigrants who are working to learn the language.

      • Suze3

        Are you really that ignorant??? OVER 11 million illegals in this country (other estimates of 20-40 million) and millions of illegal children. The federal government mandates that ALL children attend school, including illegals. According to the Dept of Education there are more than 840,000 illegal children attending public schools and more entering the school system every day. Since the schools cannot ask if they are illegal, that estimate is said to be extremely low. You seriously think this article only pertains to those who are here legally??? Drink a big cup of coffee and WAKEUP!!!!

        • shibs

          that is the problem they no longer care to learn. They say they are to old, or it is to hard but they come here anyways. We are a melting pot, we except different people and where they come from but the do not want to assimilate they want us to learn their language and us to change to their language.

          • Teacher X

            The parents might, but the kids don’t. The parents are just like any immigrant, legal or not, who come here not wanting to speak in foreign tongue. Try visiting Korea town in Los Angeles, or China Town in nearly every big city, the signs are in their language. The same thing is true of Glendale in Ca. The Armenians are dominate immigrant, some are illegal too, and many signs are not written in English here.

          • sortanormal

            Historically inaccurate. For generations the older immigrants did not learn the language, but the children did and became educated and so often became professionals. The older folks worked hard to make things better for their kids, because they came here for life and opportunity for their children.

          • shibs

            That is funny because my family did they changed their last name to shibbley, they learned English the best they could. My family is one of the old families in NY. So I don’t know where you get your Historically information from but I think there could be some holes in it.

          • GRITS

            ^correct, those kids learned it because it was frowned upon to speak your parents language. THE biggest reason why 1st gen adults don’t know their parents language. RESPECT for the country you live in. Now, we have to have 6 language pamphlets at DMV and other government facilities. Learn the language, try harder. Or we can just make it easier and you will never have to.

        • lc

          They are not coming for education….they are coming for handouts. They think it’s a free ride here. I know that is a fact as I;ve worked in social services for local gov’t.

        • Christina G.

          My daughter worked at an elementary school in San Jose, CA. 100% of the students were Hispanic “immigrants” who did not speak English. Her second grade class, by mandate, were only taught English and Math, as there was no time to teach anything else since none of them spoke English.

        • QD

          Give up the kool-aid Suze3. Stop watching Rush and Fox. Maybe you can buy a brain?

          • Suze3

            I do not drink kool-aid nor watch Rush or Fox. I have a brain with an IQ of 138, which is considered genius. I have 3 college degrees with honors with GPA’s of 3.6, 3.8 and a perfect 4.0. Maybe you need to pull your head out of the sand and get a clue.

          • QD

            No, IQ is a test result which is only on paper, and is irrelevant to life or decency. You are an example of “you can’t fix stupid or mean” but you can make it worse by watching Rush and Fox.

          • Suze3

            It is truly sad that you are too ignorant to understand that intelligence is both relevant and important to life. If it were not, we would all still be living in caves. IQ tests are directly related to a person’s level of intelligence, as evidenced by my degrees with honors and near perfect / perfect grade point averages. My guess is you never did well in school and have a grudge against those of us who did. Sad, sad, sad.

            It is also sad that you make a judgment about decency when you know nothing about me. I am someone who volunteers to feed the homeless, take care of and check on many elderly people in my community as well as taking care of my own family. Everything in my life is about decency. It also shows I am not a mean person by any stretch of the imagination. I am very highly regarded in my community.

            I am an American citizen who stands up for the rights of Americans over criminals who break into this country expecting a handout. America needs to take care of Americans and send the criminal illegal aliens back to where they came from. If they want to be citizens then they need to do it legally. I have no problem with legal immigration but I have a big problem with illegal aliens and the damage they have done to this country and the damage they continue to inflict on this country. We have laws in place for a reason and those laws need to be adhered to. Americans should come first in America.

            It does not say anything good about your character that you make a judgment call about the decency of a person you do not know.

            I do not watch Fox or Rush and can’t stand either one. If anyone is a shining example of society’s inability to fix stupid, that would be you, based on your comments. I am intelligent enough not to make a judgment about your decency since I do not know you.

            Please, get a life. Waiting 20 days to reply to a comment says you need to seriously consider moving on. Had I not just received an email, I would not have known you had posted another reply.

          • sortanormal

            No need to respond more fully to hate mongers than to say “I see you” and most Americans won’t put up with your kind of sickness.

          • GRITS

            Bravo Suz! You can’t fix Stupid! Name calling and ignorant comments of someones character based on a stupid typed comment online is clear that QD is Quite Dumb. QD, there are plenty of poor people in the US. Illegal is illegal. Trillions of dollars in debt, we cannot sustain what we are doing with FREE education, parks, roads, housing, healthcare, police/fire and more for illegals. Not when they send $414 B per year home to their native countries. Like filling a 5 lb bag of sugar with a hole in it! I guess we can continue to borrow from China and when they call our note, ya’ll can figure out who you’ll work for then. QD=Quite Dumb.

        • oldgeezer1234

          1) My problem with illegals is I had to spend 22 months and about $12,000 to get my wife and daughter to the US and the illegals want to just walk across and lay claim rights. No get in line.

          2) Most of the problems I have seen in the school systems are the parents and kids themselves.
          a) I remember the first parent meeting with teachers, my wife and I were the only parents to show up. Great for us, all the discussion was on our daughter.
          b) I remember my daughter coming home one day and was not happy. I asked her what the problem was and she said “the american students talk to much and are rude to the teacher.” That would never happen in her culture. To go to school there is not a right, it is a privilege and you pay to go every year. It the child is a problem, they are kicked out and only get one change to come back that year.
          c) I am the first to admit that I am blessed that my wife did a great job raising our daughter. But don’t get me wrong, every so often she will get mad and me and roll her eyes. haha, But that is a teenager.

          Thanks for letting me vent.

          • shibs

            I wish more Americans would take pride in their child’s education. In small school the parents are more into their child’s education. I wish the schools would bring back the punishments in schools because as I have learned a little bit of fear goes a long way. my husband and I are looking for a home but there have been times when we looked at a home and saw it has a big number of students that i will tell him no we are not moving to that town because of the school size. The city schools have a big problem because most of the parents don’t care about their child’s education. Because most of the time it is about having kids and going on welfare. I want immigrants like you to be here but the immigrants I do not want here are the ones looking for free hand outs.

      • Pete Cocker

        I got this bridge in Arizona I can make you a really good deal on!

        • Teacher X

          can I pay with a second party check written for pesos?

          • Pete Cocker

            I’ll have to hold it for 10 days!

      • Teacher X

        speaking sense to these ignorant people is useless. They want to blame all the evils our country is suffering on the powerless instead of attacking their political parties and the rich screwing us over big time.

        • lc

          Growing a crop of 40 million illegals is not going to solve any problems. It’s already brought the country down too far for recovery. When all is said and done, all the wealth will leave and land in their Dubai condos. All American universities have already moved there.

    • QD

      Give me a break. Your grandparents came into this country and my grandparents supported them! Back then, it wasn’t illegal, but we helped you as human beings.

      • GRITS

        QD, and tell me how our grandparents sent the millions and billions of dollars back home then? THEY DIDN’T. Give the Illegals work cards and let them pay taxes for the services they use in this country! Or you can just pay for all them. Many Americans are tired of it.

  • Patrik Fleming

    Why is it that so many people assume that the testing is logical and appropriate? Why is it that no ones seems to challenge the tests but only the schools response to them? Has any adult reading this seen the tests, seen any correlation between the tests and instruction or asked these questions? Remember the tests are made by independent corporations for profit and they make associated curriculums for the same tests. The US is doing the best job ever of teaching these young learners what their parents needed to know and our future is being held hostage by corporate test makers.. Zzyzx is correct in stating that Arne Duncan is an idiot.

    • jamminjjs

      It should be a citizenship requirement to know the language of the land, I don’t go to Mexico and speak English and get help.

    • jeaniebgd

      You are so right, Patrick. Our states’ Department of Education really should look into who’s writing our children’s textbooks, and tests, and read the books/tests before buying them! Pearson, for example, is a UK publisher. I was shocked and appalled to find out What’s In It when seeing examples taken from the Common Core aligned textbooks, and assignments. And shocking too, is that the College Board, a private entity btw, aligned the SAT and ACT tests to Common Core. The Common Core/College Board advanced placement tests have changed U.S. History altogether. It leaves out all info re: America’s Founding Fathers, excepting a short speech by George Washington, and maligns, and distorts U.S. history. Truly criminal! How could such a thing ever happen?! This article is a must see: Conservatives Push Back Against AP U.S. History Rewrite http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2014/08/conservatives-push-back-ap-u-s-history-rewrite/

  • tomi

    correct me if im wrong, but i seem to remember that to become a citizen of the usa you have to be able to understand english. read,write and speak it. i hate having to press 2 for english. non-english speakers should have to press a number to hear their language. just another way the pc revolution has eroded the usa.

    • minremo9502

      Oh boo hoo, I have to press an extra number when I call somewhere. First world problems…

      • Pete Cocker

        Sorry, but Tomi is correct. I NEVER press a button for english. This is the USA, not Mexico. In Kroger one day, and had the manager walk over and hit the button to take mexican off of the self check out machine. I saw the button, but I will not press it.

        • Teacher X

          Mexican? Is that a new language only spoken by one of dozens of Spanish speaking countries? Wow, now I can tell people I don’t speak Spanish, I speak Mexican. My wife’s family is from Cuba, so how will she understand me when I speak Mexican? btw, Cubans speak Spanish.

          • sue

            my daughter speaks Spanish and is English…so speaks UK ( English) English…quite different than US English or Mexican Spanish!

          • Dani

            Still better than not speaking or understanding any English. If you want to immigrate to another country, learn the language. No excuses.

          • Pete Cocker

            Cute post, but you know what I meant. I doubt that any Cubans ever caused the “press 1″ situation.

          • Kevin

            Pete – You are essentially correct. For some reason, ‘teachers’ seem to have a need to correct people…I think it’s to show people how smart they are…But most really aren’t very smart!

  • Joy

    I have no sympathy for these States and communities that encourage illegal immigrants. They encouraged them so its their problem. My State is not illegal immigrant friendly so we don’t have many of them and they aren’t screwing up our schools. In fact, my daughter’s school is about 20% hispanic but they are most legal citizens whose parents are legal as well and their test scores are usually neck and neck with the white students. As far as the schools shutting down goes, boo frigging hoo, we shouldn’t be spending billions educating illegals anyway.

    • jeaniebgd

      You must be from Alabama. :) The U.S. government thrusts illegals upon states, then dictates by fiat what a state can do about it. Hispanics comprised 1% of Tulsa, OK’s population. 2014, Hispanic children take 30% of the Tulsa Public Schools’ seats. Almost all require ELL teachers. It’s killing us as public school funding is not increasing to cover the costs of educating non-English speaking students.

      • Joy

        Nope, not Alabama. I don’t give out the State I live in over the internet but its not Alabama.

    • Straight

      Unfortunately, it’s not the states that are encouraging this … our own president has “resettled” thousands of border crashers throughout the country, with no accompanying aid. Until main stream Americans stand up and throw out every politician who has forced this on us, we will continue to decline as a whole.

      • Joy

        Several States are encouraging illegals to move there and those are the States I have no sympathy for. Florida is one of them.

        • lc

          We are overrun with them. I’m leaving.

      • lc

        We need to get rid of this administration and get some semblance of law and order back or this country is doomed in 5 years.

    • Brenda Harrell

      Don’t you know Obama is dumping these criminals in all of our states? We don’t want them either.

    • Suze3

      Whether the states encourage it or not, the feds mandate that education be provided to illegals. The school systems cannot ask if they are illegal and cannot turn them away or refuse to educate them. When the schools fail to provide a miracle of teaching them the English language in only one year then the teachers and school systems are being punished for the federal governments stupidity. Most American kids cannot seem to master the English language in 12 years so how is a child who has never spoken our language supposed to learn it in only one year?

      I am sure there are a lot of tax payers who do not agree with what their elected officials have done but they are outnumbered by the idiots. A lot of others keep their heads buried in the sand to what is really going on.

      As far as the schools shutting down, that is American children that will have a harder time getting an education. The illegals are not the ones hurt in this situation, the American children are. Again, the schools and the states have no choice but to provide the education to illegals because the federal government mandates it, otherwise they will be shut down by the feds if they refuse to provide education to illegals.

      The Dept of Education estimates that a little less than one million illegals are in schools all across the country and that number is growing every day. Since they cannot be asked as to their legal or illegal status, that number is thought to be extremely low.

      You are assuming that the 20% in your local school is legal. These people are really good at lying about their immigration status and the schools cannot legally ask about the immigration status of these children. Do you really think your school district is the only one in this entire country that seems to have escaped being overrun with illegals because they are not friendly to illegals??? Seriously??? Most communities are not friendly to illegals but that has not stopped them from moving in. Keep living in your dream world. I bet if you actually entered the real world you would find out that about 19% are actually illegal.

      • Joy

        Several States, including Florida, NY, and California, have laws that encourage illegals to move their. They give them IDs, let them go to college at in-State tuition rates, and etc. After, they whine and cry because they are broke and want more Federal money. Why should the rest of us have to pick up the tab when they are actively encouraging illegals to come to their State?

        As far as how I know most of the Latinos in my daughters school are legal there are several clues. 1) Many are military and very few illegals are in the military due to the background checks the military does. 2) They and there parents tend to speak English. 3) They perform well on standardized tests. 4) When I asked the Hispanic lady in the front office about Holder’s birth certificate mandate (I had to show the school my daughter’s bc) she said “Who’s Holder?”

        • lc

          We have been forced to live in a lawless society. Things will never get better…just worse and then the final landslide comes.

        • GRITS

          lol, illegals…in state tuition? That is hilarious! Try they get college for free. DREAM act! The hardworking legal Americans who pay taxes for the schools in their own state cannot afford to send their kids to school. Illegals send $414B per year to their native country. Give them work cards, BUT they cannot send the money home. They get to help pay for roads, education, healthcare, police/fire protection and more.

      • lc

        The school systems are all troubled because of the illegals. I remember back in the 90′s living close to SE FL and our schools were over 50% indigent. Most were illegal and anchor babies. Education stops at that point. It becomes a baby sitting service. That’s about all it is all over America today.

  • Charles Edward Brown

    Its the Federal Government who keeps dumping immigrants on these states that then making impossible demands. Maybe its time to stop all immigration.

    • DoTheMathAgain

      It is. The 1990 Immigration Act tripled our rate of legal immigration so that America naturalizes more immigrants than all other nations of the world, combined, and those are just the legal immigrants. We took in 14 million in the decade between 2000 and 2010, alone, millions more than entered through Ellis Island during its heyday, so that 1 in 8 Americans is now foreign born and 1 in 10 people born in Mexico currently lives in America. Our nation will be minority white in 30 years, and already is for kids under age 10. We basically handed over our country on a silver platter without a single shot being fired, and Mexicans call this invasion Reconquista, As Mexico claims our country state by state. This during record unemployment, our President sends our jobs overseas while flooding us with foreign labor, bloating the labor force. Those that don’t mooch off our welfare system steal IDs to find work. Raids have found illegals using stolen IDs to work at Panda Express, McDonald’s and Walmart. According to a 2005 NPR study entitled “study details the lives of illegal immigrants”, only 3% of illegals work in agriculture. Most work in the service industry or carpentry.

    • lc

      The problem is illegals…not so much the legal ones except for the IT complaints about loss of good jobs to visas. The illegals are pouring in and multiplying. They will be a huge problem when the educated masses all leave. Just another mass exodus as has happened in societies in the past.

  • Ver Acity

    When you go to the polls in November, remember that Obama, Duncan, La Raza and the pro illegal lobby are:

    · Offering a repeat of failed policies (definition of insanity).
    · Circumventing the wishes of the vast majority of US citizens.
    · Valuing illegals above lawful immigrants and US citizens.
    · Taking your hard earned tax dollars and social security contributions and using them for illegals.
    · Deliberately undermining the middle class by allowing illegals to undercut their wages and steal their job opportunities.
    · Rewarding criminals, who knowingly cheated and lied.
    · Destroying your kid’s opportunities and financial futures.
    · Blatantly discriminating against prospective lawful immigrants and their poor children by blocking them from entry and jobs.
    · Flagrantly undermining our country’s respect, our laws and border security.
    · Encouraging a wide open southern border with a continual invasion of illegals, dragging the US economy down to that of their native countries.

    It’s your choice – you know what is right and wrong.
    Vote all pro illegal candidates out of office in Nov.

    • Teacher X

      Let’s not forget that Reagan and bush both did the same thing.

      • Dani

        See how well that worked. (Sarcasm) So we should continue to repeat the same mistakes made in the past?

  • DAVID

    About 10 percent of Florida’s public school students are ELLs. That’s approximately 265,000 students

    This just proves that our immigration laws aren’t being enforced. How many of these kids are illegal or anchor babies from illegal parents. No one should get any kind of legal status beyond a visitors visa until they read and speak English proficiently.

    • oldgeezer1234

      Considering that my daughter came to the US as a non-speaker and is in the top 5% of her class and is kicking 95% of the students butt (about 3% are here legal or illegal). I would suggest that the American students need to learn to read and write English. (Also learn science, Math, History)

      • oldgeezer1234

        I forgot to add, she has been here for about 2 years.

        • Suze3

          Is your daughter here legally or illegally?

          • lc

            A no response probably means illegal.

          • oldgeezer1234

            Legally

      • lc

        If she is here legally, then fine you should be proud of her. If she is here illegally,…you’ve taught her to be a criminal.

        • oldgeezer1234

          Legally

    • lc

      I pay taxes in FL and we have more than our fair share of expenses because of illegals. i’m really tired of paying their way. They land in jail and get 3 squares a day on me! The anchor babies flow…our grocers have to lock up baby formula. It’s really disgusting to see how our federal gov’t has abandoned our laws. I’m really tired of paying the price. Oh, yeah, then they manage to get food stamps…fraud…easy…the network fills them in!

    • sortanormal

      Yup, and 9% were born here!

  • William Hathaway

    The sad part of this is that language is your map of the world. If a concept that is key to civilization does not exist in the your language, you will always be uncivilized. If the concept of a negative number does not exist the you will never grasp math.

  • Florida

    Welcome to America! If you don’t speak English, move to Miami where Spanish is preferred.

    • Brenda Harrell

      Yes, Miami is the shole for Florida.

    • lc

      It’s been all spanish speaking for years. They actually had a voter referendum on changing the language to spanish way back in the 80′s I think. They also want to divide FL into North and South so they can be independent. Take a talking translator into south FL. This country will look like Miami in another 5 years.

  • disqus_DQwCeasIJP

    We live in AMERICA, we speak english!

    • Josh B Gillie

      and navajo, cherokee, sioux, spanish, german, yiddish, greek, french, and ladino. All of these languages have been spoken in the united states since before the declaration of independence and all of them are the language of people who were born here.

      • majix

        Don’t care what language you speak at home or within your community, I do care that many atr to lazy or stupid to learn english. Am tired of the public having to provide Interpretors for legal and medical functions, am tired of expenses for spanish/englishballots, I am tired of food and other costs rising because of the expense of printing instructions/information in spanish. I refuse to learn spanish, if you cannot make your needs known in english, too bad!!!!

      • shibs

        yes all of thoughts languages have been spoken in the USA before the declaration but the difference is when the declaration was signed there was an unsaid underlined language and it became English and many of people that came here learned it and assimilated because they understood the better good of it. They wanted to be here and be part of it not change it.

        • lc

          They wanted to assimilate. now Illegals want to change America into Mexico. Where I live…it’s mission accomplished. I’m leaving soon.

      • lc

        Our national language is English and that’s all that should be taught in our schools. American children are the ones paying the price for the education problems. We pay and our own kids are not learning anything. Do you have any idea just how uneducated and “dumb” our graduates are??????????????

      • GRITS

        And the language of the United States is English. Period. Speak what you wish at home, elsewhere.

        • Josh B Gillie

          The languages I mentioned are all spoken by those born in the United States so they are already home.

        • Josh B Gillie

          The first Amendment gives me the right to speak what ever language I wish to either publicly or privately. If you don’t like that you don’t belong in this nation.

          • GRITS

            Yes, my family fought for your right and died in service. Assimilate to be an American who speaks English is the point. Why are we spending Millions on ESL/ELL DMV, Govt., etc. pamphlets in multiple languages? Do you see street signs in any of those languages? When spending BILLIONS of dollars on ESL/ELL, we simply cannot afford it. Our education system is suffering is the point. For some, that is the point – to destroy America as it was -(granted not all of it has been great but it is the land of freedom) and they don’t care. Everyone wants to come to AMERICA for the American Dream, they just don’t want to be American. Speak whatever language you want. In school, it’s English. Learn it and pay for it if you don’t know it. Freedom isn’t FREE.

  • bobmann55

    The federal govt wants to mandate all these expensive programs but is 18T in debt. Why haven’t they learned the lesson of you can;’t have your cake and eat tit too

    • jeaniebgd

      I think Obama & Co.’s game plan is to collapse the U.S. government. They’re doing a fine job of it so far. Where’s the Checks & Balances? Well, seems there’s an app for that…. Just make sure “your” comrades, er, people, are head of every department and agency in the U.S. government. God help us. Congress sure as heck won’t……..Long as it’s controlled by the Dems, anyway.

      • Brenda Harrell

        Hopefully we can remedy that in two weeks.

  • DoTheMathAgain

    America naturalizes more immigrants each year than all other nations of the world, combined, and those are just the legal immigrants. It’s easier to immigrate to America than to any other country on Earth, so why should they need amnesty for illegals and tax funded language lessons, on top of that? The 1990 Immigration Act tripled our rate of legal immigration so that we took in 14 million immigrants in the decade between 2000 and 2010, alone, millions more than entered through Ellis Island during its heyday. 1 in 8 Americans is currently foreign born and 1 in 10 people born in Mexico currently lives in America. The country will be minority white in 30 years, and already is for kids under age 10. No other country on Earth is voluntarily changing hands through immigration, yet we are letting Reconquista happen without a single shot fired. Our government sends our jobs overseas and floods us with foreign labor on our own shores during record unemployment, and then Obama pretends to wonder why the economy has not improved during his 6 years in office. Most of these invaders don’t even labor, but mooch off the services our taxes pay for, but those who do often do so with stolen identities, taking jobs from Americans. Federal investigations have uncovered illegals working with stolen identities at Panda Express, McDonalds and Walmart. According to a 2005 report by NPR entitled “study details the lives of illegal immigrants”, only 3% of illegals work in agriculture. Most work in service industries or construction. When all has been accounted for, illegals cost American taxpayers over $500 billion each year, and that is from a 2007 study conducted before the economy tanked and before schools offered free breakfasts for the children of illegals, as well.

  • Tom Williams

    Blame the teacher because a kid can’t speak English? What’s next, blaming teachers for lazy parents and kids who refuse to do their work and study?!!….oh, wait….that is already the case under the for-profit, high-stakes testing, corporate take-over of American Education. And the Democrats are all for it? What is happening to America when the party that is supposed to fight for fairness is leading the war on teachers?

  • mike

    If you can’t speak English that is a you problem. I am tired of having to press 1 for English, this is the United States of America, when you leave your shit hole of a country to come to the U.S. learn our language and laws or get out. I am tired of my hard earned money going to these people when they don’t even try to learn the language or just collect benefits and milk the system.

  • Elise

    Why does the Federal Government have to stick their noses in this? Education should be decided at the LOCAL LEVEL as communities have different needs. Let the parents and local administrators decide what the best course of action should be for their students.

  • Straight

    In small Flagler county (FL) per the school district’s own website, the school district accommodates 77 languages other than English … that’s a disgrace !! No wonder our schools are going to hell in a hand basket.

    What’s worse, these kids are put into classes according to their age, and NOT according to their ability. So these non-English speakers are disrupting everyone.

  • Leelee Ortega

    My next door neighbor came from Iraq when he was 13, speaking no English.
    His dad had a job in Texas, he says “no special classes for non English speakers in the early 70s, sink or swim, period, took me 2 years”. Today, you would never know, he learned English in HS. Although, every once in a while that weird “a” sound- like caar, and yaard, pops up. He went to college in Boston.
    When and why did we decide that students were unable to sponge up language just like the immigrants before them?

  • John Milton

    Another good example of why the federal government should butt out of the education business and leave the education of children to each STATE.

  • ChristineBlue

    I have no sympathy for these kids. The schools should never have passed them to the next grade if they could not read, write and or speak English. PEOPLE this si America and E N G L I S H is NOT the second language.

  • Brenda Harrell

    They wanted to come here, let them learn the language. Why should we be paying for these kids to learn English? They should have learned it before coming here. Go back to your own country. I wish Ellis Island was still up and running and our borders were locked and loaded. Put mines along the border and blow those criminals up.

  • GG1000

    They should be learning before they come, not just showing up and making the taxpayers pay to teach them. High school is predicated on the students already understanding the basic language. It’s not fair to teachers or the other students to constantly inflict these non English speakers on them.

  • Augustine Beary

    If these children are illegal, they should have to pay tuition for their education

  • ljones

    What about you are in an ENGLISH speaking country do you not understand. I know that colleges are just social venues, but surely you were taught that. I am tired of making exceptions for these people. Don’t want to learn my language get the hell out.

  • David

    The best way to learn a language is through immersion. Speaking a “native-somethings” native language retards their ability to learn English, and so too does providing TV, radio, and outdoor advertising, is the “native-somethings” language. As a result these people do not speak, read, and write English well enough to move above the lowest level service sector jobs, like housekeeping at hotels. Visit the San Joaquin Valley of California and see for yourself entire communities where no one speaks anything other than Spanish and they live in abject poverty because they can’t read, write, and speak English above the 3rd grade level (and yes I am writing of high school graduates). They self-segregate and their ignorance of English is enabled by UNivision, etc.

  • Christina G.

    So why don’t they write the standard tests in the most common foreign languages? Since the tests are standardized, they are written nationally. How expensive could it be to hire a bilingual transcriber for Spanish, French, German, Italian, Farsi, Chinese, and so on? If the IRS and the SSA can send out letters in every conceivable language, surely the Feds can write the standardized tests in a variety of languages.

    I’m all for foreigners learning fluent English, but Math, Science, and so on should be tested in their native language until they are fluent. Either that, or just exempt them from the tests.

  • Suze3

    So, the federal government allows these illegals into this country and forces the states to provide them an education on the states / taxpayers dime. The feds expect the school systems and teachers to play God and provide a miracle of being able to teach the entire English language in only one year to those who know nothing of our language. When the school systems and teachers fail to provide said miracle then they will be punished by the feds for not being able to fix the federal governments stupidity. Instead of the feds taking responsibility for their stupidity they would rather blame others for failing to provide a miracle.

    There is a reason English courses are taken every year a child is in school because even those born in this country cannot master the English language in only one year. A large number of our own are not even learning it in 12 years. Maybe the feds need to rethink their stupidity and quit forcing those who are in this country illegally to get an education here. Send all of the kids and their parents back to where they came from so they can learn their own language in their own country of origin. For those who are here legally, have separate schools so that they are not left behind and they can learn in a reasonable manner and in a reasonable amount of time.

    Just more proof this country is going to hell in a hand-basket due to the ignorance of our government officials. Makes you wonder if they are not trying to destroy this country.

  • CMW

    I teach ESOL and most, if not all, of my students are here legally. Don’t assume that all immigrants are here illegally. Many come because their parents are on H-1 visa. The parents speak English, but not their children, or not to the level where they are comparable to native speakers.

    • Suze3

      Since by federal law you cannot ask their legal immigration status, how do you know they are here legally??? The Dept of Education gives a low estimate of close to a million illegal children in public schools all across the country and that number is growing daily. I doubt very seriously that most of your students are here legally. They and their parents are good at stealing identities and lying about their legal status.

      • CMW

        They tell me and have no reason to lie since teachers can not report students’ immigration status to ICE, the community where I work is next to several big tech firms, and there are certain testing forms, like the PSAT, which my students just took, that have the students fill out immigration status.

  • Marlene Augst-Lott

    My grandmother spoke strictly Hungarian until the third grade, she learned English IN SCHOOL WITH NO HELP, this constant catering to foreign speaking kids is pathetic.

  • Darryl

    We need to stop all immigration until our public schools figure out how to deal with this problem. We have always had immigrant children with the need to learn English, but with Obama we are simply being over run. Nothing new under the sun here in America, we just need to slow the flow. My grandparents arrived at Ellis Island in 1905. They were LEGAL immigrants, and they had a DUTY to learn English. America back then actually had a quota of new immigrants per year. Now it is a free for all.

  • rae

    I love how every one is turning this into a debate of legal vs illegal whereas the article is pointing out the concern that schools and teachers are being held to impossible standards and their livelihoods can be effected by unrealistic goals

    • lc

      Illegals have been a huge burden and problem so it’s very relevant.

  • shibs

    One of these days there is going to be another war in this country. It is going to be us against our government to take it back so we can take our country back. Many people feel that this is an unsaid war/invasion with out on fire shot. I for one think this is also true. Difference is we are giving them our country with out a fight. When this happens and they do take over (will happen if nothing is done) and we will not have a voice any more and we will become the new 3rd world country. We are on our way to it now. granted money is there for now but when people can no longer have a home or afford a family what do we have left to loose. Everything has a braking point only question is what is ours going to be.

  • Bruce

    math is its own language you don’t need to speak English to do it

    • lc

      And your point is?

  • lc

    The US government as well as all local governments should be teaching and printing materials in English only. No taxpayer money should be wasted on other language. This is America. To be a citizen….learn the language. Not a citizen….get out or get deported.

  • Tom Paine

    The dept of ed should be abolished along with 95% of the federal government. Our Founders gave us a small limited government, not the kind we have today where it arrests people for smoking some reefer, invades countries that were never a threat, forces us into socialist schemes like social security and obamamamacare.

    DC arms terrorists in the middle east while trying to grab our guns which we have a natural right to bear. Something is deeply wrong in DC. We have an out of control president who says he has the power to wage war. And the congress that has that power does nothing about it.

    It is pass time for a mass impeachment of the DC elite for their crimes against the US Constitution can no longer be ignored !!

    • lc

      Amen.

  • lc

    All I can say is don’t move to FL and expect any real education in our schools. They’ve become nothing but a babysitting service to the parents. Many families leave FL because of the inferior educational opportunities. Bingo…our schools are full of illegals and anchor babies.

  • michelle nitu

    When I came to US, as a legal resident, I barely spoke any English. I could not pass the driving license exam. I could not sustain a basic conversation. So I enrolled myself I what was called ESL English second language, which these p.c. guys call Esol and ELL bs. I joined a group of people who were challenged the same way I was and we learned together with one teacher. Once I was done with that, I enrolled on my CS master degree and proceed with my individual studies. Not for a second I considered that anyone owes me anything , nor did I slowed down a whole class because I was myself a beginner. I would have been ashamed.

  • lc

    Come to FL if you want to see the new America. In our little town we now have a huge walmart surrounded by all the junk food kings and a mexican bar across from city hall. ALL the small businesses are GONE. Oh yeah, we have a few mexican restaurants and a tattoo place….a couple auto body shops that do custom wheels and paint jobs for all the brand new “family” trucks with extended cab. We do still have a couple American grocers left along with two drug stores (natch…we have to buy their prescriptions and supply them with baby supplies). The grocers have baby formula locked in cases. Rural health services took over our big bank complex. Our gift shops are gone, our wine and antiques shops are gone along with several restaurants. Our car dealership left and we have a used car lot. We have a new money changer business and amscot so you can wire money. This is just one town….

  • Philémon

    Listen. My parents are Haitian. Completely legal immigrants who speak English, French, Creole, and Spanish (sad that I have to specify that they’re legal but I do). When we were really little we spoke Creole at home and it’s important to keep in touch with your culture, I get that, but as soon as we entered school that went out the door. If your family can handle one language at home and another in public, cool, but if you have to start speaking English at home to really get the level up, you have just to suck it up and do it. We were alienated by the Haitian community because my siblings and I can’t speak Creole that well, but that’s a sacrifice. At 22 years old, I speak English, French, and German now.

  • fred

    Please consider
    joining NumbersUSA.

    In 2013 NumbersUSA members sent 5.6 million
    faxes to Congress in opposition to any current immigration reform legislation
    being considered that contains “amnesty” provisions. And many
    millions more have reached Congress this year and have been acknowledged by politicians
    as influencing their positions on immigration reform.

    NumbersUSA members are very aware of the
    damage illegal immigration has done to the nation: overcrowded schools, over
    extended welfare system, high crime rates, lower wages, high unemployment, etc.

    Please join NumbersUSA.

    • lc

      Yes…highly recommend. I joined last year and love it.

  • Nurses Educate

    Amazing how well our prior generations managed to make it. They came here speaking broken English yet they managed to make sure their kids understood enough English to make it in our country. Our country has been built on immigrants, the key difference between prior generations and now is our grandparents and their grandparents came here knowing they would need to assimilate, yes you heard me ASSIMILATE into our culture and learn the language. They were willing to fight to learn English and work at any job they could get for a better life in the USA. They came here and fought for our country and OUR way of life. They served in the military proudly and were never ashamed to say the Pledge of Allegiance. They were the generations we can be proud of unlike the newer immigrants, those of the last say 25 years who expect handouts, expect our way of life to change to accommodate their needs and desires and so on. If my philosophy and train of thought gets your panties in a bunch then so be it, I for one am sick and tired of giving away the U.S.A.

    • lc

      I worked in social services and can tell you that most come for freebies now and there’s a lot of theft. Our grocers have to lock up the baby formula here where I live. Our jails are full of illegals…they get 3 squares a day on the taxpayers in jail!.

  • Compassionate Betty Florida

    Such warm, compassionate Americans we have here. I’ll bet you’re mostly Christians, too.

  • BrokeAmericanTeacher

    The POINT of this article is that the data proves ELLs need more time to master the English language before teachers and school can be held accountable for the results of their formal assessments.

    In OTHER news, don’t forget that everyone who lives in the United States of America can be traced back to another country at some point in their history. The United States is a melting pot and I promise you that their are bigger issues in life than having to “press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish”. So get off your high horse and just be a good person. The world needs more good people.

  • Tony

    Here’s any easy solution Let’s not let them in this country until they learn how to speak English. When my grandparents emigrated through Ellis Island they were held to a higher standard. Why is it now anyone can come to our country and do as they please? These people are a burden on society. Deport them all back to their native countries until they are capable of assimilating.

  • Bill

    what the H— is wrong with this administration in DC? that thinks it’s everyone else’s responsibility in the US to make sure non-English speaking people are able to pass proficiency Test if their children aren’t capable of understanding English —Enough— it is not mine or any TEACHERS job to have all these foreign students up to snuff—THE AMERICAN VOTER is totally left out of this English speaking requirement– all this so the current admin can increase voter registration for their group –your not even suppose to ask for ID when they (foreigners) slip in to Vote in the US – But-Even in Mexico you have to have a fingerprint and photo id to Vote— I’ am sure they don’t steal their citizens money to teach anyone who shows up at their schools Spanish for free— GIVE OUR TEACHERS A BREAK and get the idiots out of DC

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