Mt. Vernon School District Expanding Foreign Language Program To All Elementary Schools
Mount Vernon Inquirer
Sept 19
, 2005

Embraces Needs Of Bilingual Students

Bilingual education in the Mount Vernon School District continues to expand with the help of Dr. Pedro J. Ruiz, Administrator for Languages other than English.

  Dr. Ruiz recently announced that foreign language classes in Mount Vernon elementary grades has expanded to all elementary schools within the Mount Vernon School District. Available classes include Spanish and French, with additional languages to be added in the near future.

  Dr. Ruiz has been employed by the Mount Vernon SchooL District for the last seven years and is the acting principal at  Pennington-Grimes Elementary School.

  Dr. Ruiz is currently the President of the National Association for Bilingual Education, which is a nationwide network of bilingual education professionals, parents, and students dedicated to promoting educational excellence and equity through bilingual education. The National Association for Bilingual Education is the only national professional membership organization whose resources are exclusively committed to representing both English language learners and bilingual education professionals.

  He is also a past President of the N.Y. State Association for Bilingual education. He was born and educated in Puerto Rico, and obtained his Masters Degree at Adelphi University.  He attended New York University while living in New York, where he obtained his Ph.D.

  According to many, the  rationale for bilingual education as opposed to English "immersion," in which students must take all their courses in English rests on the argument that students will perform poorly without a gradual introduction of English into all study courses.

  Dr. Ruiz is an advocate of  raising the academic achievement of all students and, at the same time, closing the gaps in student academic performance.  Dr. Ruiz further believes that building the capacity of School districts to strengthen educational services to limited English proficient /English language learners (LEP/ELL) is a key strategy to reducing these gaps.

According to the NYS Education Department, LEP/ELL students represent diverse economic, experiential, educational and linguistic backgrounds. Many of these students enter New York schools with well-developed literacy skills in their primary languages, while for others education may have been temporarily suspended or unavailable in their native countries due to political, social or economic problems.  It is this latter population that enters the State educational system with less than an age-appropriate levEL of native language literacy and other academic development.  With the implementation of the new New  York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), The NYS Education Department anticipates a more comprehensive profile of these students and their remediation needs to emerge.

(Note from SK: For a nice picture of Pedro Ruiz, go to http://www.mvinquirer.com/)