English learning key requirement of state schools
Our local schools are very familiar with the issue of students who have difficulty with the English language.
Numerous students here come from families where Spanish is spoken and the English ability of these youths can be limited. It has been a concern in our community for many years and continues to be one.
That is why English learner programs are an important part of the curriculum in schools here. Unfortunately, there continue to be questions about how effective those programs are in advancing skills in English.
Just recently state school officials reached an agreement with federal officials from two agencies — the U.S. Education Department and the Department of Justice — to improve the efforts of state schools to both identify and teach those needing help with learning English.
The federal officials had chided state educators for not properly finding and evaluating the level of English learning needed. The result is students who do not acquire the needed skills.
We may have seen an example of this locally when a candidate for the San Luis, Ariz., City Council was removed from the ballot by the courts for lacking enough English proficiency, at least in the spoken language, to properly fulfill the duties of public office.
The surprising thing to many of us was that she was a graduate of Kofa High School. How was that possible if she was not proficient in English? Clearly, something was amiss.
State educators have promised to improve their English learning efforts. They should not have to be told to do this. Graduating students who know the English language as part of their education is their basic job. It harms not only the individual but also the community as a whole when that does not happen.
There is nothing wrong with young people knowing and using other languages, but the ability for them to adequately progress in our English-based society requires they have proficiency in English.