As a parent and/or community member, I support the recommendations of The Children’s Agenda to improve Bilingual Education. I urge the RCSD Board of Education to approve a 2018-2019 budget that addresses the following areas.
These recommendations are from the Latino/a Education Taskforce, and fully supported by The Children’s Agenda:
1. Stabilize Bilingual Education - Our research has clearly highlighted that the Department of Bilingual Education is unstable. The Director's position has had tremendous turnover and is currently filled by an Acting Director. To ensure consistent, quality bilingual education for RCSD students, a permanent director must be hired with the Bilingual Council’s support, at a higher grade by the Association of Supervisors & Administrators of Rochester, and with a department budget.
2. Permanent Newcomer Program for Latina/o Students- Latina/o students are not the focus of the Rochester International Academy. Over 560 students have already arrived in Rochester from Puerto Rico this school year after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, creating need for at least 20 additional classrooms. Our largest schools have become placement centers for newcomer Latina/o students with no programs to address their unique needs. The District needs a permanent K-12 Latina/o newcomer program, modeled on the Rochester International Academy. The newcomer program should have appropriate bilingual staff to student ratios, including bilingual social workers and counselors to address the deep trauma these students experienced.
3. Strategic Plan for Latina/o Achievement Alignment- The significant and authentic needs of Latina/o’s make it imperative that we have an aligned plan in Latina/o studies and Bilingual Education. A strategic plan to add structure and direction for both across the district should be created. We have seven elementary bilingual schools feeding into one high school, creating overcrowding, and limits the academic opportunities for those students. With the influx of 560+ newcomer students from Puerto Rico, there are now not enough seats at the elementary level.
4. Students need additional bilingual seats at all levels. We applaud the expansion of bilingual education to Edison Career and Technical High School, and will be watching to make sure those positions are filled before September 2018.