Bilingual education plan to aid Queens students

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The new plans for the education of students...

By Kathianne Boniello

The city Board of Education last week unanimously approved a new policy for bilingual students that gives parents in Queens and throughout the five boroughs more choices for their children’s English education.

The new plans for the education of students who need to learn English known as English Language Learners call for intensive English classes and programs, which give parents a choice about their children’s instruction and attract qualified language teachers.

The current system, which both Schools Chancellor Harold Levy and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani have opposed, provides less concentrated English language instruction than the proposed changes and does not educate students in a timely manner, Levy and Giuliani have claimed.

The plan, expected to be in place by the 2001-2002 school year, was slated to cost $75 million to help the some 160,000 students in Queens and throughout the city who need to learn English.

According to the resolution passed by the seven-member Board of Education Feb. 27, the city’s new plan includes:

• informing parents about the availability of different English language programs.

• making students proficient in English within three years.

• improving teacher quality for English language programs.

• creating intensive language programs that focus on helping English Language Learners who come into the city school system as sixth graders or in older grades. Board of Ed spokeswoman Victoria Streitfeld said older students who need English help tend to stay in the system longer than their younger counterparts.

The day after the Board of Ed approved the new policy, Levy appointed a Manhattan superintendent to head the new office in charge of instituting the changes.

Dr. Edna Vega, superintendent of School District 7, will replace William Casey and the current office of Bilingual Education to lead the new office of English Language Learners.

In a statement Levy also said he would establish an English Language Learner Advisory Council to help institute the newly approved policy.

Streitfeld said it is up to the chancellor to find funding to get the $75 million initiative off the ground.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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