California’s new educational priority isinstruction for English learners, according to the new state funding formula. That is why it is reasonable and necessary to have State Board of Education members whohave an in-depth understanding of this sector of basic education.
The Board’s mission is to set K-12 education policy in the areas of academic standards, curriculum, instructional materials, assessment and accountability. There are currently two vacancies on the 11-member board.
We hope that Governor Jerry Brown will fill one of those posts with someone with knowledge and experience in the education of students learning English. Today, there is only one member, Aida Molina of the Bakersfield school district, who has such experience, and she should not be the only one on the Board.
It is estimated that45% of Californians speak a language other than English at home and in school. Nearly one of every four students is an English learner and 85% of these students come from low-income families.
The large number of students in this situation and the economic limitations of the schools they attend drove Governor Brown to establish the Local Control Funding Formula, providing more funds to those schools and more freedom to use them. With the passage of Proposition 30, voters authorized more funding for this purpose.
This represents a major, significant change in educational priorities arising at the same time as others, such as implementation of theCommon Corefocused on mathematics and English instructionand theNext Generation Science Standards, among others.
This is a key moment for basic education in California. It is essential that there be advocates for English learners in the schools and districts as well as on the State Board of Education. And it is fundamental that a body overseeing so many changes include people who understand their impact on these students and their families.
The appointment of an experienced advocate for English learners will contribute to fulfilling the governor’s goals