Bilingual mandate for voucher schools

Wisconsin is considering new regulations for Milwaukee private schools that take voucher students, including one proposal to require bilingual/bicultural education at voucher schools where at least 10 percent of students aren’t proficient in English. Legislators also plan a 2.5 percent cut in voucher funding; at a maximum of $6,607 per student, it’s much less than per-student funding in district schools.

Combined with the reduced funding, the result is “a fiscal as well as educational crisis on the south side,” said Terry Brown, the president of St. Anthony Catholic School, which, with more than 1,000 students, is the largest kindergarten through eighth-grade program in the city. Almost all the students are from predominantly Spanish-speaking backgrounds, and Brown said the school has been successful with its (English) immersion program.

“There are any number of parents who have specifically come to St. Anthony because we do not force bilingual education on English language learners,” he said.

At Learning the Language, Mary Ann Zehr predicts the bill will flop: Wisconsin doesn’t require public schools to provide bilingual classes so why the mandate for private schools?

Update: Rep. Pedro Colon’s aide now tells Zehr that his intent is to equalize requirements for voucher and public schools by requiring a “bilingual-bicultural education program” that need not include native-language instruction.

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Comments

  1. You have to wonder at the naiveté of voucher proponents. Here’s an item from Milwaukee Magazine which gives some insight into why selectively burdening voucher-accepting schools, along with maintaining their historic funding inequity, may get passed:

    For some years, it has been clear that some choice schools have been run by hucksters who are in it for the money and may know little about education. “We’ve got to figure out a way to stop (them) from starting schools in the first place,” (Howard) Fuller declared.

    Fuller announced he would support Gov. Jim Doyle, yes a Democrat, in his push for more regulation of choice schools. This is a historic change of position for someone who has often provided the moral force behind vouchers, and will make it harder for Republicans and the more ideological voucher-ites to oppose stricter regulation.

    Dr. Fuller’s back-story is that he’s politically pretty far to the left – in the 60s he was an avowed Marxist and black nationalist and one of his bright ideas was an all-black school district within Milwaukee – and it appears he’s returning to his roots, so to write.

    Having been swept away by the romance of opposing “the man” Dr. Fuller appears to be returning to the fold of belief that posits “the masses” need to be lead by their superiors. So rather then find ways to make parental choice more effective and better-informed Dr. Fuller appears to be trying to make sure that those whose wisdom and education will limit parental choice to those options which that wisdom and education dictates they ought to have.

  2. SuperSub says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the bill passes… it would effectively handicap a large proportion of voucher schools preventing them from doing what they do best – teach students.
    I have yet to see a well-designed study that shows increased success with bilingual study for non-English speakers.

  3. Update from Learning the Language:

    June 5 UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: In a phone conversation with me today, Andy Janssen, chief of staff for Wisconsin Rep. Pedro Colon, said that Colon does not (as I suggest in my comments in this blog entry) intend to require anything of voucher schools that isn’t required of public schools in Wisconsin. Colon wants voucher schools to provide a “bilingual-bicultural education program” for English-language learners. Wisconsin law requires public schools to offer a “bilingual-bicultural education program” as well. But Janssen acknowledges that Wisconsin law requires schools to offer a language program that is appropriate for ELLs, not necessarily one that includes native-language instruction. Likewise, according to Janssen, Colon is not saying that voucher schools should be required to provide native-language instruction, as the Associated Press and Wisconsin papers reported, but rather that they should have to provide something for ELLs that is similar to what the Wisconsin statute requires of public schools.

  4. Ragnarok says:

    “At Learning the Language, Mary Ann Zehr predicts the bill will flop: Wisconsin doesn’t require public schools to provide bilingual classes so why the mandate for private schools?”

    I assume this is a rhetorical question, because the answer is blindingly obvious.

    As Allen points out, the aim is to get vouchers to fail.

  5. “For some years, it has been clear that some choice schools have been run by hucksters who are in it for the money and may know little about education.”

    You mean they’re run by former public school district superintendents?

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Bi-lingual + monolingual in a language other than English.

    Have a friend in the hospitality business who swears, not unhappily, that bi-lingual ed for immigrants and their kids is designed to provide functional illiterates whose only hope is to work for crap wages in hotels, and not complain about it.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Not “+” Should be “=”

  8. Har! Richard, tell your friend that you should never look for plans when laziness and conceit provide an adequate explanation.

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    allen.
    Yeah, there’s that. But once you see what laziness and conceit can achieve, you may want to make plans to insure laziness and conceit aren’t overtaken by effort and competence.
    You know. Slobber all over the fact that these poor kids can’t get ahead unless they know Spanish and the history of the Aztecs. That they’ll go bad if we don’t honor the culture their parents risked a good deal to escape. That English is the language of The Man.
    Ignore how well immersion works.