Too bad Jill Stewart didn’t look at the 2005 test data and only listened to “one school reformer” before she vilified over 50 school and county administrators and hundreds of teachers who only want to upgrade the current English language arts textbooks. So what are the facts? (3/2/06, Capitol Punishment, “The education wars”)

The achievement gap between students who speak English and those who don’t (English learners) has grown consistently since the passage of Prop. 227.

Last year’s third grade test scores dropped for almost all students but even more dramatically for English learners. The worst part is that the numbers of students scoring at the lowest levels of achievement in the third grade increased, and especially for English Learners. These third graders began their reading experience under the one-size-fits-all program currently mandated by the California State Board of Education designed for native English speakers.

Students who speak the least English do not understand the lessons contained in the current and proposed new textbooks, voted on by the State Board of Education on March 9.

The request is to enhance the new books with specific instruction for students who need to learn English and how to read English at the same time.

The recommendations before the state board from a broad group of educators do not even mention bilingual education. This debate is over English materials.

So why would Ms. Stewart use all the hot button words to scare the public and intimidate the State Board of Education members? Maybe because she is only a political commentator and not an educator? She should stick to politics and let the State Board of Education do the right thing for 1.6 million English learners who need books to accelerate their learning of English and prepare them to

compete in a dynamic, diverse and global economy.

Shelly Spiegel-Coleman

President, Californians Together

Long Beach

Teachers defended

How terribly sad to see that such negative and unprofessional journalists such as Stewart exist in this wonderful county. There were so many errors in this article (3/2/06, Capitol Punishment, “The education wars”) it is hard to know where to begin.

Does this author actually believe that schools and teachers are only using the state adopted reading series to instruct English learners? These students are achieving, just as they always have, due mainly to teacher efforts to write multiple and varied lessons and/or resort to using several separate (not state-adopted) curricula to supplement the incredibly weak English language arts materials.

Buying all this additional instructional material is costly to schools and taxpayers! The proposed amendments to the English language arts framework currently pending approval at the State Board simply embed the support teachers deserve in one state-adopted reading program. Why is this so hard for the author to understand? Does she also not realize how difficult it is for teachers to re-invent every lesson because the reading series does not support English language development? Does she actually believe teachers don’t do this? The recommended amendments will help teachers to be even more effective and avoid time wasted on writing essential curriculum that should have been provided for them.

However, it is the multitude of erroneous statements this author makes that is most disturbing. Gains she attributes to teaching in English (Prop 227) are not supported at all in a very recently released (by the California Department of Education) five year study on the effects of Prop 227. She obviously failed to read that. She says the ELD standards are not “research based.” That is completely false. There are volumes of research on the process of language acquisition going back decades. Again, she failed to do her research. And lastly, her disparaging comments about Shelly Spiegel–Coleman are just ugly and unprofessional. This author has embarrassed herself and demonstrated to all her utter lack of journalistic integrity.

Darci L. Knight