Bilingual Education Column

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After a three-year investigation, the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights has concluded that a Sacramento, Calif., elementary school for recent immigrants does not violate federal desegregation laws.

The office found that the Newcomer School, which is designed to provide recent limited-English-proficient immigrants with a supportive environment while preparing them for regular schools, does not segregate students solely on the basis of race or ethnic group.

Federal law acknowledges that some separation of lep students is necessary to serve their needs, the ocr said, noting that the separateness of the Newcomer program is mitigated by the fact that enrollment in the school is voluntary, children stay there for less than a year, and the school's offerings are comparable to those of other schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Officials of the o.c.r. added, however, that they continue "to have some serious reservations" regarding the location of the program at a separate site.

The Institute for Research in English Acquisition and Development, a bilingual-education research organization, has a new executive director.

Keith Baker, who resigned as a senior researcher at the Education Department in 1989 to form the group, would not comment on why he left read in January.

Mr. Baker--who used his post at read to accuse the department last fall of "systematically covering up mountains of research" showing the failure of bilingual education--said in an interview last week that he did not know whether the organization still exists.

In as executive director is Rosalie Pedalino Porter, a member of read's board of directors and the author of Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual Education.

Ms. Porter, who was appointed last month, asserted last week that the nonprofit organization is alive and well. She said read has changed its focus, dropping its policy of keeping researchers on staff and instead seeking to support various school initiatives and research undertaken by other organizations.

Now based in Amherst, Mass., read also plans to open an office in Washington by July 1, Ms. Porter said. She noted that her appointment is due to expire at the end of the year, when she plans to begin a lectureship in Italy.

U.S. English, the only contributor to read that Mr. Baker had identified, is waiting to see how the organization changes before giving it any new funding, a source at the official-English advocacy group said.

Robert E. Rossier, chairman of read's board, said the organization is "doing quite well with funding" and, if necessary, could exist without U.S. English's support.--ps

Vol. 10, Issue 33

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