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Immersion charter rejected because it wouldn’t enroll monoglots past 2nd grade

February 7, 2015

One of the reasons this was rejected was because the school’s proposed charterl said that after 2nd grade it would only admit students who were proficient in Mandarin.

Claire Cunningham, a legal counsel to the Office of Education, found fault with the proposed charter’s language proficiency requirement for children who want to enroll after second grade. “All public schools, including charter schools … have to admit all students who seek to attend. And [if] a public school wishes to exclude portions of students who may wish to attend, that’s not permissible under the [California] education code,” she said.

That’s odd, as every Mandarin immersion (and Spanish immersion and French immersion) program I’m aware of doesn’t allow students who aren’t proficient in both languages after a certain point, usually first grade. There’s simply no other way you can run an immersion school. In fact College Park Elementary, in the San Mateo/Foster City School District, just 14 miles away in, is example of such a school.

It’s also the rule at all the public immersion schools in San Francisco Unified School District.

It’s a puzzler, to be sure…

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County rejects bid to open a Mandarin immersion charter school in Menlo Park

Backers of the proposed Menlo Mandarin Immersion Charter School are down to their final strike.

The San Mateo County Board of Education on Wednesday denied their petition to open a charter within the Menlo Park City School District.

In November, the school district’s board of trustees threw the first strike by rejecting the Mandarin immersion charter’s petition — a month after holding a public hearing where many teachers and others spoke against the school. Now that the county threw a second strike, supporters’ last chance for a charter lies with the state if they pursue it.

Please read more here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. meran permalink
    February 7, 2015 2:19 pm

    I assume it may be the way they worded their enrollment policy. Stating a child is required to have a certain level of proficiency in English and/or the target immersion language just sounds bad. Our enrollment policy accomplishes the same (no enrollment past end of 1st grade), but is stated as such: GALA will restrict the enrollment of new students to specific grade levels. GALA will only accept new student applications for kindergarten or first grade. New applicants to GALA are welcome in grades 2-8 for students who have attended a school during the last calendar in which 50% or more of instruction is conducted in the target language of the language immersion program application (i.e. Mandarin or Spanish). Students in grades 2-8 who do not meet this standard are not eligible to apply to GALA. This enrollment policy, a national best practice among language immersion schools, will ensure the best learning opportunity and quality of program in GALA’s foreign language immersion environment.

  2. February 9, 2015 2:33 pm

    I believe College Park Elementary has a track for foreign language immersion classes, and a track for English-only classes. So if student does not pass foreign language proficiency test, s/he can still attend English-only classes–this was not the case in the proposed Mandarin immersion charter school in Menlo Park.
    GALA, I believe, is not a California school.
    Also, as explained in the SMCOE report:
    “On January 12th…,the California Department of Education,…confirmed that charter schools shall not require potential students to pass a language proficiency exam for enrollment. All public schools, both charter and traditional, must accommodate any student who wishes to enroll even if the student lacks the language proficiency to match peers at the school. When staff asked CDE about the statement that other charters apparently require proficiency exams, staff was informed that CDE does not intervene to invalidate a charter petition that has already been approved, but any liability that may result from violating the Education Code would be the responsibility of the charter authorizer. In other words, it is entirely possible that existing charter schools have language proficiency requirements, but that does not mean those admission requirements are legal, or without risk of liability to the charter authorizer.”

  3. February 10, 2015 2:23 am

    I believe College Park Elementary has a track for foreign language immersion classes, and a track for English-only classes. So if student does not pass foreign language proficiency test, s/he can still attend English-only classes–this was not the case in the proposed Mandarin immersion charter school in Menlo Park.

    GALA, I believe, is not a California school.

    Also, as explained in the SMCOE report:
    “On January 12th…,the California Department of Education,…confirmed that charter schools shall not require potential students to pass a language proficiency exam for enrollment. All public schools, both charter and traditional, must accommodate any student who wishes to enroll even if the student lacks the language proficiency to match peers at the school. When staff asked CDE about the statement that other charters apparently require proficiency exams, staff was informed that CDE does not intervene to invalidate a charter petition that has already been approved, but any liability that may result from violating the Education Code would be the responsibility of the charter authorizer. In other words, it is entirely possible that existing charter schools have language proficiency requirements, but that does not mean those admission requirements are legal, or without risk of liability to the charter authorizer.”

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