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The California Department of Education has been harming language-minority children with its "single minded'' emphasis on native-language instruction, a new report by a bipartisan state watchdog agency argues.

The 13-member Little Hoover Commission, which was established by statute and consists of legislative and gubernatorial appointees, last month called the department's approach to educating limited-English-proficient students "divisive, wasteful, and unproductive.''

The report charges that the department "has perpetuated the myth'' that the language and academic needs of L.E.P. students could be met if all schools adopted the same native-language approach. In addition, it states, the department is far more concerned with enforcing compliance with this approach than with holding schools accountable for the academic success of L.E.P. students.

Such students "have been cast adrift'' while the department has devoted its energy to forcing schools to recruit hard-to-find bilingual teachers, the report says. As a result, many students do not receive needed services, too few students learn English, and Hispanic students are disproportionately likely to drop out of school and unlikely to attend college.

Norman Gold, a consultant in charge of bilingual-program compliance for the state, denied the allegations and accused the panel itself of being divisive and of wasting taxpayers' dollars.

The report recommends that the state give localities more leeway in selecting methods for teaching L.E.P. students, revise funding mechanisms to reward schools for helping students attain English proficiency, and better document the use of state funds for L.E.P. students.

The state of Maryland has sued to prevent a former high school teacher from financially gaining by selling the story of his admitted sexual involvement with several students.

State Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. filed the suit last month after reading press accounts suggesting that Ronald W. Price had signed a contract to sell his "life story'' for a movie. Mr. Curran invoked for the first time a state law barring individuals from profiting from notoriety stemming from their crimes.

The former teacher at Northeast High School in Pasadena has been charged with child sexual abuse and perverted sex practices with three female students. Mr. Price has acknowledged not only those acts, but four other intimate relationships with students.

Mr. Price has stated that he suffered from a mental illness during the time he was involved with students.

He has also appeared on several television talk shows to discuss his case.

"If Ron Price thinks he can tell the world that he slept with his own students and then cash in on it, I want him to know that he can't,'' Mr. Curran said.

Mr. Price's lawyers said the state law is unconstitutional and defended their client's right to sell his life story.

Vol. 12, Issue 40

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