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Examining The Challenges Of English Learners, Bridgeport Mom: I Wish Schools Had Both Languages

May 30th, 2017 · 15 Comments · Education, News and Events

“For those who do, neuroscience says bilingualism provides benefits both in the classroom and throughout life … What that means is those who are bilingual are apt to be better at problem solving, multi-tasking, and focusing and filtering relevant information.” CT Mirror reporter Jacqueline Rabe Thomas digs deep into the struggling world of English learners in Connecticut, kicking off her story with the challenges facing a Bridgeport mother and her children.

When it came time for Aracelis Hidalgo to enroll her two sons in school, it became clear that her local public school in Bridgeport would not be embracing Spanish–the only language she and her children understood.

Instead, her sons were put into English-only classes and given some extra tutoring. School announcements were sent home in English, and no translators were available to help her communicate with teachers.

“It shouldn’t be this way,” Hidalgo said through a translator. Her Spanish-speaking daughter, who will start school in the fall, sat on her lap. “I wish the schools would have both languages.”

The family’s experience is common. English-only classes with added supports is the primary approach in Connecticut public schools to helping students learn English–and it is producing dismal outcomes.

In Bridgeport, only 47 percent of the English learners receiving language supports showed any overall progress on English proficiency tests during the 2013-14 school year, the last year for which the state tracked data. In Hartford, which enrolls more English learners than any other Connecticut district, 46 percent showed any progress.

Full story here.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel Gonzalez

    And what has the BOE done about this long existing problem? According to a recent article the big problem is not with Hispanic students but, with black students. How’s this for a racist segregated approach?:

    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Males-of-Color-forum-set-in-Bridgeport-11179365.php

    • Joel Gonzalez

      You guys remember my 3 Speedy Gonzalez cousins. Today they speak fluent English. Actually, one of them still has a long way to go. I purchased the ‘Ingles sin barreras’ CD’s and they were all supposed to share it daily. I couldn’t understand why one of them just didn’t get it when one day I discovered what was the problem. These are the youtube videos I later learned he was watching, If you have a problem reading each part, you can pause and continue when you’re done reading, Enjoy!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L11z3-vJaXw

  • Joel Gonzalez

    This issue goes back to what I have touched on in the past here on OIB. The Bridgeport school district must do what our Police Department does. For many years I personally have assisted officers with Spanish translation when no one was immediately available. The BPD has officers who speak just about any other language.

    The BOE has been ignoring the need of bilingual instruction for too long. Immigration patterns have obviously been ignored. A block of BOE members have been considering suing the City of Bridgeport for lack of school funding. Why is the district facing this problem? Where is this non-English speaking sector of our citizenry coming from? These are the children of legal and illegal immigrants, Puerto Rico included. Instead of having discussions about suing the City of Bridgeport, the BOE and the City should be discussing suing the Federal Government for the cost of educating the children of Illegal Immigrants.

    In fairness to the district, there are other services available which can help parents like Aracelis Hidalgo. Caesar Batalla School for example offers English classes for parents. My wife spends allot of time at Batalla and she has taken classes despite not really needing to. She has expressed her disappointment at the fact that so few parents take advantage of this learning opportunity.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The lady quoted in this article does not appear to have made any attempts to learn English herself. There are 89 dialects spoken in Bridgeport school system do we get tutors in all 89 dialects? On a serious nature maybe we should have a special school that concentrates in teaching English only and when the kids learn English they get main streamed.
    In the case sited the mother is at fault

  • Tom White

    Isn’t it amazing that liberals feel that taxpayer funded public education is responsible for providing bilingual education? Of course there are benefits to bilingualism. They parade out a woman who cannot speak English with children who are nearly school age and cannot speak English.

    Does everyone recall the wave of Viernamese immigrants? They prepared their children to speak English and did total immersion in school. How about the Kurds?

    Ms Hidalgo is an example of a burden placed on a taxpayer funded public school system by people who have not prepared their children to communicate and then assured by liberals that American society is at fault.

    The credibility of a story on the benefits of bilingualism is compromised by using Ms Hidalgo as an example.

  • Stringfellow

    There was a time when immigrants came to this country did not speak English but they made sure their kids did. We’re there tutors back then? I doubt it the kids learned and in some cases taught their parents. Over time the parents learned so what has changed?

    Males of color

    A lot if kids have young mothers theese mothere have not learned the life skills it takes to raise a child or in some cases children. Far too many times their kids fall into foster case or are raised by other family. If the kids get bounced around from one place to another not to mention the negativity they are exposed to it is no wonder they have trouble in school. If they have poor reading skills or do no know how to handle issues without lashing out negatively.

    There are far too many kids like this in school systems all over this country. It’s not just a person of color issue it’s any child who is not properly prepared. We’re they born to a mother who had a substance abuse problem? It there any genetic mental illness on either side of their parents! Was the child read to by their care giver?
    The problems these kids have are not always their fault.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Just thinking, this lady has been here long enough to have a few kids that are now school age. She has not learned English and has not taught her kids English. Is that my fault

  • Gary Tobin

    If we could actually witness what a day or a week is like for a Bridgeport school teacher.
    If we could actually witness what parents/guardians do or more so don’t do for THEIR kids.
    If we could actually witness how the school system really operates daily, with out the camera.
    If we could actually witness how these kids are basically at a public daycare facility with some education sprinkled on.
    If only we could see or witness the grade levels the kids are at before they are PUSHED onto the next grade.
    If only we could see how the instructional aspect of the classroom and how it’s focus is on the lower grade level kids.
    The things we do witness and see regularly are the results of these practices. Graduation percentages and drop out rate.

    • Ed Davies

      Gary,

      You CAN see into the public schools, as I have for over 18 years, as a school volunteer. You’d see that, despite some incredible challenges faced by educators, most of what you have described above is false, stereotypical BS. Bilingual programs, like those at Cesar Batalla, teach ALL English language learners, and help the children succeed.

      • Gary Tobin

        “most of what you have described above is false, stereotypical BS”
        Mr. Davies please enlighten me on the false parts of my post.
        And explain the stereotyping.

        Thanks

  • Marshall Marcus

    Much of the blame lays with the parents. Last year I took over for an ill teacher from April 1 to the last day of school. A new student arrived from Mexico to live with his mom and half-siblings in Bridgeport. He knew no English. The mother forbade Bilingual class or ESL intervention. She proclaimed that the 6th grade sister would teach him English at home. It did not happen. By the end of June all he could say is ‘I’m hungry, when is lunch?’
    I had 4 ELL students who were late every single day to school, missing their assigned time for assistance.
    Parents who can not get their children to school in time for a FULL day of learning can’t expect the schools to work miracles.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Some observations from above:

      Participate in School Volunteer Association activities as Ed Davis said. You may learn more than you currently believe through being present to one student, or one class for a period each week. Intelligence operations depend on current and regular observation. Some of the volunteer may also rub off on the students who in turn observe the volunteer!

      Parent have rights to have their children participate in one thing or another, however one wonders at times whether they are personally prepared to understand the impact of the choices they are making when their school experience in another culture or country is so different from what goes on in Bridgeport?

      The habits of tardiness or missing a day of school here or there has a cumulative impact on student progress and does the impact of moving from school to school where opportunities for dealing with one student, new to the country, language, etc. by staff may receive less attention than in a former school.

      The youth generally will develop language skills from immersion in the larger pool of students. However, that does not automatically translate into grade-level reading skills if reading in any language is not high on the family TO DO list. How does the school deal with that type of friction?

      Time will tell.

  • Tom White

    Gary, you paint a rather negative picture, but based on my first-hand observation I must agree with you.
    There are some productive, motivated kids in the Bridgeport public school system. Their parents are productive and this influences the children. Unfortunately, the Bridgeport population is short on responsible parents.

  • Tom White

    Gary is spot-on with his description of the Bridgeport public school system as public daycare with some education sprinkled on . There are productive kids but most attend high school to be entertained. There are amazingly skilled teachers and administrators who somehow get through to some kids.

  • Mojo

    *** minor things done while making big casino money over the years & continues today to give Ct. A small piece of the pie due to the minor deal made with then Gov. Wicker. The state should of been able to come back to the table after 10yrs. to review the contract and make new financial agreements with the Indians depending on their continued monetary success at the casinos! ***

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