Preamble: Key Goals of Bilingual Rules for Districts' Flexibility

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Following are excerpts from the preamble to the Education Department's proposed new bilingual-education regulations.

Major Objectives OfThese Regulations

The major objectives of this regulatory package are to:

(a) Inform local educational agencies (lea's) that the act gives them substantial discretion to determine the extent of native-language use in transitional bilingual-education programs funded under section 721(a)(1).

(b) Expand parental involvement in the educational decisions relating to their children.

(c) Increase emphasis on building local capacity to operate programs of instruction for the limited-English-proficient.

(d) Ensure that limited-English-proficient children obtain proficiency in English as quickly as possible so that they can effectively participate in the regular educational program.

The proposed regulations interpret and implement Title VII as amended and, when adopted in final form, will apply to applications submitted and grants awarded, beginning in fiscal year 1986.

Transitional BilingualEducation

The Secretary wishes to ensure that lea's understand the extent of the discretion granted to them under the act to make educational judgments about the extent of native-language instruction used in transitional bilingual-education projects. Section 703(a)(4)(A) of the act defines program of transitional bilingual education to mean:

a program of instruction, designed for children of limited English proficiency in elementary or secondary schools, which provides, with respect to the years of study to which such program is applicable, structured English-language instruction, and, to the extent necessary to allow a child to achieve competence in the English language, instruction in the child's native language. Such instruction shall incorporate the cultural heritage of such children and of other children in American society. Such instruction shall, to the extent necessary, be in all courses or subjects of study which will allow a child to meet grade-promotion and graduation standards.

The statute specifically prohibits the Secretary from promulgating regulations which further define, restrict, or expand upon the statutory definition of the program found in section 703(a)(4).

Thus, any project funded as a program of transitional bilingual education under this section of the act must make provision for native-language instruction of lep participants only to the extent necessary to allow them to achieve competence in English and to meet local grade-promotion and graduation standards. The act grants lea's considerable discretion to decide the extent and duration of native-language instruction needed, and the manner in which it will be used in their projects, when responding to the specific, changing, educa-tional needs of participating lep students. The statute does not prescribe the minimum amount of time or instruction required to meet this standard. lea's are in the best position to make these educational judgments.

Parental Involvement

The Secretary believes that it is important for parents to be involved in decision-making about which educational program best suits their children. The statute and these regulations provide for three means of parental involvement: (1) Parental participation in an application advisory committee; (2) parental partici-pation in a parent advisory committee during the implementation of each project; and (3) each parent's participation in determining whether his or her child would benefit from and should participate in particular programs provided by the lea

Capacity and Commitment

The recipients of Part A instructional grants are required by statute to build their capacity to provide a program of instruction for lep children on a regular basis when federal assistance for the project is reduced or no longer available. The proposed regulations specify that to carry out this purpose, the Secretary will fund a project only if the applicant sets forth a realistic plan in its application to develop its programmatic capacity for serving lep children and to assume financial responsibility for the program. The program must be of sufficient size, scope, and quality to promise significant improvement in the education of lep children. The Secretary will consider, among other factors, the prior experience of existing and past grantees and their success or lack of success in building capacity to continue a project.

The Secretary has determined that the best evidence of increased capacity and commitment at the local level is increased commitment of local funds over the project period. The Secretary will reduce the level of federal support in each successive year of the project unless the applicant's plan provides for an increased commitment of local funds each year to provide expanded special services for greater numbers of lep children. Any such reductions will be based on negotiations with each applicant. Alternatively, based on unforeseen circumstances such as a substantial influx of lep children in the school district of the lea, the grantee--in its application for a successive budget period under the project--may amend its original plan to demonstrate to the Secretary that it will provide expanded special services.

Vol. 05, Issue 13

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