Original URL: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/95380p-86458c.html

20M translates into new bilingual ed plan
DAILY NEWS, June 25, 2003

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday the city will pump $20 million more into programs aimed at helping immigrant students become fluent in English faster.

The cash infusion is part of his plan to improve instruction for the public schools' roughly 145,000 non-English-speaking pupils, many of whom have languished in ill-equipped classrooms or dropped out.

Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced the creation of an academy to train teachers at all grade levels who work with non-English-speaking students. The school system also will hire 107 specialists to help other teachers hone their classroom skills.

Some 1,000 teachers will be trained in the new academy next year, as first reported by the Daily News on Saturday.

The reform plan is the final piece of Bloomberg's overhaul of city schools, and it neatly skirted the philosophical battles that have derailed previous attempts to improve education for recent immigrants.

Bloomberg did not, as many advocates feared, eliminate bilingual education, in which students are taught core subjects in their native languages until they learn enough English to attend regular classes.

Instead, the mayor set a 60-40 split in bilingual classes: 60% of the instruction in the native language and 40% in English, with the amount of English gradually increasing. In many bilingual classes in the past, little or no English was taught.

The initial report drew approval from many Hispanic leaders, among the biggest advocates of bilingual programs.

"We had been afraid he would eliminate bilingual education entirely," said Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D-Bronx).

Bloomberg's plan also boosts the two other programs used in city schools: English as a Second Language and dual-language instruction.

Students in ESL - about 65% of non-English speakers - will get additional instruction in English as the overall curriculum is beefed up. And this fall, a dual-language high school in lower Manhattan and 13 other dual-language programs will open.

In dual-language instruction, English-speaking students and recent immigrants learn to read and write in two languages.

Originally published on June 25, 2003