Arizona Education Association

Spring 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 4 of 39

SPRING 2018 | ADVOCATE 5 Member Talk VOICE YOUR VIEWS Readers are encouraged to state opinions or make comments in letters that will be considered for publication in this column. The editor reserves the right to edit lengthy letters representing a balance of viewpoints. Generally, letters will not be published without the names of their writers and local associations. Send letters to: "Member Talk" AEA Advocate 345 East Palm Lane Phoenix, AZ 85004 Contact sheenae.shannon@ WRITE US! n December, Emmanuel, a hypothetical yet typical student from Honduras, moves to the U.S. with his father. Emmanuel, based on his age and previous schooling, is placed into 7th grade. He speaks very little English; more accurately, he can read things like advertisements, and understand a few basic words when spoken to. He knows the numbers and colors. They studied some English at his school back home. Emmanuel has six classes per day. He is placed into English reading, English writing, English speaking and listening, English grammar, math, and computer essentials. There is no room in his schedule for science, social studies, or music class. Emmanuel plays trumpet, and was hoping to be in the band at school, but that will have to wait. Emmanuel makes quick progress. Within a few weeks, he is confident enough to ask his teachers if he can use the restroom or borrow a pencil, and he can understand a little of what his math teacher is saying. Computer class can be difficult, but he learns by doing, and he likes learning to type. In February, Emmanuel has to take the AZELLA test. Unsurprisingly, his scores are low. It's another year in four periods of English Language Development (ELD). He works hard in 8th grade, and in his first year of high school, he makes it to intermediate level and only needs two periods of ELD. He finally gets an elective. Should he take his required year of P.E., or should he take band? No matter what his choice, he still has a gap to close in science and social studies, now that he can understand at least some of the work. This is the model of English language acquisition in Arizona. The model has some benefits for a new immigrant, such as giving the student intensive language instruction right away, but overall it can be clunky and often, especially at the elementary level, leads to a segregated environment that can last for years and perpetuate conceptual gaps created during the years before the student is able to use English to learn. Dual-language programs do exist in Arizona, but they are few. The rigidity of the current system is the result of a series of court decisions in Flores v. Arizona, and the policies that were developed in response. Even teachers who love teaching ELLs often chafe against this model, yearning for more flexibility to integrate reading, writing, listening, and speaking, or to introduce more content from other subjects. I started teaching English Language Development in an audit year, and "compliance" required redesigning our entire schedule one quarter into the year, and creating weeks and weeks of detailed lesson plans from a set of standards that literally takes an entire binder to house in printed form. It was intense. Next year, our principal wants to do something radical in our traditional junior high school. She is creating five teams of teachers and students, and getting rid of the bell schedule. Each team will be allowed, within a general structure, to develop the use of time and space that best meets their students' needs. We will also be moving toward competency- based grading and personalization of learning. Technology, collaboration, and flexibility will feature largely. So much possibility. Wow! But the legally required 4-hour block of ELD classes must be met daily. Even the two required hours for intermediate students imposes an awkward and complex rigidity onto what needs to be a flexible schedule. How will these students be included in flexible teams? If they aren't, who will their math and science teachers be if all those teachers are working in other teams? So many questions have clouded my thoughts these past few weeks. Then, the haze evaporates and into my reverie plops House Bill (HB) 2435, which will eliminate the infamous 4-Hour ELD block and allow districts to develop their own research-based language acquisition programs. In the current draft, the hourly requirements would be more flexible, for one: • Grades K-6: 120 minutes per day, 600 minutes per week, OR 360 hours per year. • Grades 7-12: 100 minutes per day, 500 minutes per week, OR 300 hours per year. • The word "or" means everything. This means that a school with an alternative bell schedule could flexibly provide the hours required. I AEA Bill May Allow for Innovations Beyond the 4-Hour ELD Block Continues on p. 32

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Arizona Education Association - Spring 2018