failing grade blamed on misspending
Hispanic advocates say money intended to help
non-English speakers is allocated poorly.
The Associated Press
August 31, 2003
WOODBURN — Many
Oregon schools with a high percentage of Hispanic students received an “F”
recently on a federal report card of education standards, intensifying the
debate about the use of state funds for non-English speakers.
“This gives every Latino a black eye,” said
Miguel Salinas, president of Hispanic Education Advocacy Resource Team. “The
districts should be ashamed. Extra money goes to the schools, but not the kids.”
School districts around the
state receive extra money for every student learning English as a second
Rather than being spent on the non-English speakers, Salinas said, the money
often goes to other purposes, leaving students without needed help.
As an example, he points to Woodburn, where all seven schools in the
predominantly Hispanic district failed to meet a handful of the 60 yearly
progress benchmarks set by the federal No Child Left Behind act.
In the data released last week, Hispanics in 67 schools didn’t meet the
standards for reading, writing and math.
Since the early 1990s, the state education funding formula has given 50 percent
more money to districts for every student designated an English-language
learner. In the 2001-02 school year, Oregon sent school districts about $5,000
per student, then an extra $2,500 for every student learning English.
The law doesn’t require that the money be spent on bilingual or English-language
programs, but Hispanic advocates say it should be. School officials insist that
the money goes to targeted students, often in the form of supplies or bilingual
Walt Blomberg, Woodburn superintendent, said much money is used on classroom
materials for non-native English speakers.
The low tests scores are the result of forcing immigrant students to take the
same exams in English as everyone else, even if they’ve only been in the country
a year, Blomberg said.
“The federal law is asking us to buy into something that doesn’t make sense,” he
A breakdown of a handful of school districts
with high Hispanic populations shows an apparent gap between extra money
allocated for English-language learners — $2,500 extra per student in 2001-02 —
and money spent on their programs.
According to Education Department figures, the
Salem-Keizer School District spent $5.14 million in 2001-02 on bilingual and
English-language programs for foreign students, or $937 per child.
At Woodburn High School, with the largest
percentage of non-English speakers in the state, $307,206 was spent in 2002-03
on English-language programs for approximately 700 students, or about $439 per
student. That’s only about 20 percent of the money the school received for those
Laura Lanka, principal of Woodburn High School, said those numbers are
misleading because the school spends a lot of money on teachers and materials
for English learners that are not calculated in formal programs.
Eduardo Angulo, chairman of the Salem/Keizer
Coalition for Equality, a Hispanic advocacy group, spent much of this
record-long Legislative session pushing Senate Bill 897, which would have forced
the Oregon Department of Education to do a study about how the extra money is
The bill passed the Senate Education Committee but got stuck in the
budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. It was still there as the Legislature
ground to a halt Wednesday.
No Child Left Behind timeline
Fall 2003: Schools that are in “needs improvement” status for two consecutive
years must begin offering school choice to families. There are 14 such schools
in Oregon; none are in the Salem-Keizer School District.
2005-06: Annual statewide assessments for reading and math in grades 3-8 must be
in place. By the end of the year, all teachers in core academic subjects must
meet requirements to be highly qualified. All teaching assistants in Title One
schools must be highly qualified.
2013-14: All students must reach proficiency in math, reading and science.