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Fearing for bilingual ed
New York Daily News
May 9th, 2003, Friday

Hispanic advocates say they fear Chancellor Joel Klein is secretly working to dismantle the city's bilingual program as part of his schools overhaul.

Klein, who was given a March 15 deadline by Mayor Bloomberg to come up with a reform blueprint, hasn't "made [up] his mind yet" on bilingual education, the mayor said yesterday.
"What we're trying to do, what he's trying to do, is to look at examples around the country where they have different kinds of approaches to deal with the fact that not all of our students speak English," Bloomberg said.
But advocacy group members who have met with Klein's deputy Diana Lam fear he plans to scrap many of the city's bilingual programs - where students are taught in English and their native languages - and replace them with more English-only programs.
"We are concerned because while Deputy Lam says she is a proponent of dual language programs ... the solution most students will get is a few periods of English instruction a day," said Shelley Rappaport, a policy analyst with the Hispanic Federation in Manhattan.
Rappaport said Lam has told advocates the city's English as a Second Language program was more effective than the bilingual programs, according to a recent department study.
Sink or swim
In ESL programs, students get a period or two of English instruction but spend the rest of the school day in regular classrooms. Some advocates call this a sink-or-swim approach.
"In the last two years, under Mayors [Rudy] Giuliani and Bloomberg, the New York City Department of Education has overseen a dramatic shift of children from bilingual classes to ESL classes, and a failure to hire an adequate number of certified bilingual and ESL teachers," said Luis Reyes, an assistant professor at Hunter College.
He and other advocates noted that the city is required to provide certain kinds of bilingual instruction as a result of court decisions.
David Chai, an Education Department spokesman, said Lam was a vigorous advocate of dual language instruction but that no decision had been made.