So, as you know I am a Special Education Teacher that provides services to mainstream and bilingual students.
She wants to keep him in a bilingual class, and I am suggesting he goes to a mainstream class. Let me also mention, I worked with this student for two years and she has known him for only three months.
The student in question has had four years of bilingual education. Please note the majority of students in the district only get three years of bilingual education.
We gave my little buddy and extra year to see if it would make a difference. The result is the child is illeterate in Spanish yet shows emergent reading and writing skills in English.
She mentions theories that support strengthening a student's ability to read and write in their first language, so that they can transfer certain literacy skills over when they learn how to read and write in their second language.
Some people in bilingual education believe this approach will make it easier for a student to acquire their second language. Other folks in education say this approach is the latest trend that is fueled by politics.
I don't really have a horse in that race. Yet, I have my own insights based on coming from a bilingual environment. In my world second language acquisition was essential for survival.
My colleague is a middle-class white woman, that speaks flawless Spanish as a result of her four years of studying it in college. In her world second language acquisition was an enhancement.
I asked her if these studies, she is using as a rationale for her recommendation, included students with special needs. She responded immediately with a "yes." She has yet to provide me with the studies and/or names of the authors.
I then looked for some of these studies and the disabilities that were included are often limited to Learning Disabled and/or Speech and Language Impaired.
Moreover, the studies I've read did not provide information regarding to what degree the students have their disabilities.
Also, what other services and number of special ed hours these children were given in order to succeed in a bilingual program that focused on "strengthening" their first language.
Keep in mind these studies are centered around students that have spanish as their first language. If you speak Arabic, Swahili, or Mandarin, the child gets TESOL or ESL support in a mainstream class. I wonder how those children are doing.
Now, back to the issue at hand. The challenge we have in putting together a program for this student is that he engages in selective mutism, at school, in order to deal with his anxiety.
According to his Speech Path therapist, this selective mute behavior compromises his higher-level thinking skills, as well as, the acquisition and use of both languages due to lack of practice.
When she and I first started to discuss this student, I went to her with data to support my recommendation.
The data was essential is giving me tangible evidence regarding where this student is at in English, so that the PPT team could use it to design a program that is informed by academic and anecdotal data.
She took the papers, glanced at them, and put them to the side. She then went on about the theories, and used statements that started with "I think" and "I feel."
Is she fucking kidding?