Bilingual & Immigrant Education
Advocates on both sides of California's ballot initiative to curtail bilingual education in public schools went before the state school board this month, several months before the voters will decide the issue.
The 10-member board hosted a hearing Feb. 9 as a "fact finding" session to better understand how the proposal, if passed, would affect students, parents, and teachers. As expected, the board did not vote to take a stand on the "English for the Children" initiative that day.
"But that does not preclude that the board may well vote on it at some time in the future," a board spokesman said.
The initiative on the June 2 ballot would require that most children with limited English proficiency be taught in English.
Just days before the state board's hearing, teachers and administrators who gathered in San Jose for the California Association for Bilingual Education's annual meeting donated more than $200,000 to help defeat the initiative. Most of the state's education groups--including the California State PTA, the 270,000-member California Teachers Association, and the state's elected schools chief--oppose the measure.
With college admissions becoming increasingly competitive, one company has staked out a rather unusual niche among the businesses that help prepare students for entrance exams.
SureScore targets Hispanic students looking to boost their SAT scores. Most of the company's instructors are Hispanic. And the courses offered are "specifically tailored to Latinos and Latino learning styles," according to Roy Santos Nieto, the founder of the Maxwell, Texas-based company. Roughly 70 percent of the students SureScore works with, he says, are the first in their families to apply for college.
Hispanic students lag behind the national average on the SAT. Hispanics average a combined score of just over 900, while the national average for all students is just over 1,000. A perfect score is 1,600.
SureScore has worked with several Texas districts and offers 5 1/2-week courses in Texas and California. It pledges to improve a student's score by 100 points. Families can opt for payment plans or apply for scholarships to meet the $395 price tag.
The concept has clearly struck a chord. After being profiled in the December issue of Hispanic magazine, the company has received hundreds of calls from school counselors and students requesting information, it says. More information is available from SureScore at (888) 545-TEST.
--LYNN SCHNAIBERG [email protected]