New York State Board of Regents changes bilingual instruction policy
A new move by the New York State Board of Regents would change the way school districts administer bilingual instruction.
Under current guidelines, districts are only required to provide bilingual instruction when they have 20 or more English as a Second Language students speaking the same language in the same grade in one school. Under the new program, schools will have to provide that language instruction when 20 or more students speaking the same language in the same grade are enrolled across the district.
Advocates are hailing the program as a great step forward.
"It speaks of the commitment of the Board of Regents and state education as well as the understanding of the population they have in the schools in New York," said Dafny Irizarry, of the Long Island Latino Teachers Association.
In Middle Country, Superintendent Dr. Roberta Gerod says she has 370 non-English speaking students with 16 native languages. Under the new regulations, she will have to hire more bilingual teachers, each one with a price tag of nearly $70,000 including benefits.
Gerod says paying for those teachers may become a dilemma for districts already on a tight budget.
Critics of the state plan say the bilingual changes may force districts to chop school programs.
District administrators told News 12 that it will ultimately come down to finding a delicate balance between the needs of different groups of students.