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Good Schools For All by Voice of San Diego

Good Schools for All is a podcast about education. Hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn from the Education Synergy Alliance cut through the jargon and debate to get to the news and ideas that matter. Good schools are at the heart of our democracy and economy. We are about good schools for all kids.
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May 5, 2016

Damian checked a little box when he registered his son Ethan for kindergarten. It indicated that the family predominantly spoke Spanish at home.

At the time, Damian had no idea his son would be classified as an English-learner, and that the designation would follow his son around, having a profound impact on his education.

It's been difficult, Damian said, to get the school district to recognize that, although his son still speaks Spanish at home, he's a smart kid who's excelling in many ways.

"That's my major concern is that I can't describe my kid to this bureaucracy in the right way," he said.

This week, hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn take a new approach to the podcast by weaving Damian and Ethan's story into the larger question of how our city, state and country is educating English-learners.

In November, voters will weigh the California Multilingual Education Act. The measure would essentially gut Proposition 227, the controversial statue that banned bilingual education in most classrooms unless parents specifically opt in.

Conor Williams, the founding director of the nonprofit New America's dual language learner national work group, joins the show to provide some statistics and context on the issue. Williams drops a bombshell when he shares which state is actually leading the way when it comes to its approach to English-learners.

"I'm amazed every time I say it – I can't even believe it myself," he said.

VOSD's education reporter Mario Koran also makes an appearance to talk about his New America fellowship and the future of his weekly column, The Learning Curve.

What’s Working

We've mentioned duel-language immersion schools in the past. There are 82 schools in San Diego that educate students in two languages. Two schools doing it well are the EJE Academies Charter School in El Cajon and the Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School. The two schools are recognized nationally for their efforts in providing a bilingual education to a diverse body of students.

Number of the Week

75 percent: That's the number of California students in middle and high school who are considered long-term English Learners, which means they've been designated as English-learners for at least seven years.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

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