Influential National Hispanic Civil Rights Organization Opposed to Voucher Expansion

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are emphasizing their opposition to school vouchers in their education platform:

LULAC strongly opposes vouchers and any other funding method that will limit public education resources. All Latinos should have access to safe, quality and desegregated public education. Public schools should be improved and rehabilitated, and be provided with adequate funding to do so. LULAC supports full-funding of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and urges Congress to reauthorize ESEA with community input. LULAC supports an increase in funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) of higher education. LULAC supports an increase in the number of Latino educators at all levels of education, administrators and school board members, as well as teacher training and development programs to encourage Latinos to become teachers.

Their emphasis on “desegregated public education” is especially poignant as Dr. Rosa Castro Feinberg pointed out last week Hispanic English Language Learners (ELL) are not served by Florida voucher schools.

Florida law governing the tax credit scholarship program gives vouchers to low-income families to use as tuition for their children in private schools but does not adequately protect the rights of English Language Learners (ELLs), shortchanging Latino students and other groups learning English as an additional language from receiving proper instruction. This flaw in Florida law must be rectified in order to improve educational opportunities for Latinos.

The outcome in Castañeda  v. Pickard was one of our most important victories. The decision set standards for judging the adequacy of plans for educating ELLs. Plans must be based on sound theory, implementation must be supported by adequate resources and trained teachers, and the plan must be evaluated and improved as needed.

State ESOL law incorporates these standards through the Consent Decree in LULAC v. Florida Board of Education. They apply to all English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) programs in Florida.

As a result of these legal rights, this is what you have a right to expect in traditional schools:

  • School districts select ELL programs from state approved models.
  • The state provides extra funding for ELLs and monitors them to assure ESOL rules are followed by schools.
  • ESOL teachers must complete 15 semester hours of training to teach ELL students.
  • Teachers of other subjects must also receive training for students who don’t understand English.
  • Schools must assess ELLs annually to determine progress and if they still need to take ESOL.
  • Students in ESOL Programs study the same subjects and take the same examinations required of all public school students, including the FCAT.

When your child goes to a school where vouchers are used for payments, all bets are off when it comes to these rules, and it’s because these schools are private.

Voucher schools are not required to comply with state ESOL rules. Though some voucher schools may provide similar services, they are not required to report if they do or don’t. They are not subject to state ESOL law. Unfortunately, neither are charter schools.

Uh, oh. Castro-Feinberg mentioned charter schools, too. No wonder voucher administrator and charter school lackey, Step Up for Students  dispatched a big gun yesterday in an attempt to counter her.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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