News

Next in line to be cut: ESL class at Castro

More than 100 parents and teachers are petitioning to save an English language program they say has helped dozens of Latino parents get more involved in the community.

For the last several years the Mountain View-Los Altos and Mountain View Whisman school districts have collaborated to offer a free English as a Second Language (ESL) class at Castro Elementary School for local parents. Most of the parents drop their kids off at Castro, then spend the morning learning English vocabulary and grammar, which in turn helps them contribute to their children's education.

But due to steep budget cuts, the class may be terminated at the end of the school year.

Until now the elementary school district provided the classroom rent-free five days a week for three hours, and MVLA's Adult School contributed financially to a Castro preschool program, where many of the students leave their children. But in the current fiscal climate, the Adult School cannot provide more funding, school officials said. And elementary school district administrators say that they cannot offer the classroom space for free anymore.

Because of these setbacks -- and since the Adult School can't afford the $15 an hour for the class -- teacher Kit Miller said the high school district will have to end the ESL course. Miller started a petition to keep the class which now has 111 teacher and parent signatures.

"We see this as a bi-district project," Miller said. "We can't keep paying for it."

The Adult School is already cutting back teachers and programs as it faces $1.3 million in budget cuts through June 2010. In its current budget proposal, the Adult School plans to cut over 40 percent from ESL programs, according to director Laura Stefanski.

Since the Adult School withdrew funding, the rules dictate that the elementary school district must begin charging the class as an outside group, according to chief financial officer Craig Goldman.

"We understand there have been significant cuts to the Adult School," Goldman said. "We see a need to comply with the law. Otherwise what would stop any other group from expecting the space for free?"

Miller said many of the petition signers were planning to attend the elementary school district's board of trustees meeting on Thursday, April 23 to speak about the importance of the class. She said the district should continue providing the classroom because the course helps so many district families.

"Our Castro School class is part of our key mission to reach immigrants who are poor," Miller said. "Mountain View is benefiting from having these parents becoming involved."

Maura Garbuza, a student in the class who has two daughters at Castro, signed the petition, and said the course has helped her become conversational in English. She can now help her daughter with her homework.

"I want to learn. It is important," Garbuza said. "I want to communicate with people when I go to the doctor with my kids."

The Adult School campus, across town on Moffett Boulevard, also offers English classes, but Miller said none of them are specifically for parents. And it is hard for many of the parents, who don't have cars, to get to these classes.

Rosa, another student in the class who did not want her last name used, said she does not have time to commute by bus to Moffett Boulevard every day. She drops her three children off at Castro in the morning, and needs to be back by 11:15 a.m. to pick the youngest up from preschool.

"It's too far for me since I have to walk or take the bus," she said.

Miller said Rosa is not alone, and many parents would stop their English education altogether if the class were canceled.

"If I don't stand up for this class who will," Miller said.

The high school district's board of trustees will discuss the cuts during their meeting on April 27, and make a final decision on May 11.

Proposed cuts to Adult School programs

High school district trustees will meet Monday to begin cutting $1.3 million from the Adult School in the 2009-10 academic year. A final decision will be made May 11. Below are some Adult School programs facing the biggest cuts:

* Adults with disabilities: Instructional hours will be reduced 45 percent, including elimination of classes at two of three sites.

* ESL and citizenship: Instructional hours will be reduced 44 percent, resulting in fewer classes.

* Vocational program: All classes that do not lead to certification for employment will be eliminated, a total of more than 800 instructional hours.

* Older adults: All classes will become fee-based and self-supporting by July 1. Programs providing outreach to convalescent homes in the area may be dropped by June 30.

* High School Diploma and GED: Adult high school diploma program will be reduced in size "with a stronger emphasis on adults working toward their GED certificate," according to director Laura Stefanski. The Adult School will continue to offer instructional services to concurrently enrolled students from the comprehensive high school sites, but take fewer referrals due to reduced program staffing.

* Grants: Reduced funding expected for the Even Start Family Literacy Grant, CAL-SAFE Grant for young teen parents and CalWORKs Grant for adults on public assistance.

* Fee-based classes: Expected to stay intact if they meet minimum enrollment requirements and are self-supporting.

Comments

Posted by Marcel, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I wonder why people always forget about bikes ... It's always "these people don't have cars, bus is inconvenient and it's too far for walking". If they simply went by bike, it would take them 10-15 minutes to get from Castro to Moffett. That should do it, no?


Posted by Get Smart, a resident of Castro City
on Apr 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Why not just hand out Sesame Street videos? Let big bird teach them


Posted by Sacrifice to succeed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Obviously the "free" English as a Second Language (ESL) class at Castro Elementary School for local parents isn't free. The Mountain View elementary district is short $2.6 million for the next 17 months. The high school district faces $2 million in reductions over the next 17 months, and approximately $1.3 million of this will come from the Adult School. Kit Miller a teacher started a petition to keep and continue the ESL class at Castro Elementary School. How will a petition create funds that aren't there from the school districts?

In the MV-Voice report a student, who currently attends the "free" ESL class, says she has no time to commute by bus to Moffett Boulevard every day. The student said, "She drops her three children off at Castro in the morning, and needs to be back by 11:15 a.m. to pick the youngest up from preschool". Why doesn't this particular parent/student show by example to her children how important a "free" education is by making sacrifices and attend classes at the Adult School campus. Rosa is the epitome of the Latino/Latina educational gap that exists in America. If school is too hard, don't attend. This country offers the tools to succeed, it's up to each individual to access and use the tools to succeed.

I am an immigrant to the U.S.A and I came to this country with the hopes that my hard work, determination and sacrifices will benefit my family. It has! The hardships my family and I endured to educate ourselves make the successes we have sweeter.

BTW, why do editors of the Voice rename the headlines of stories when the blogs don't support the views/agendas of the Voice. Your actions to rename the stories are shameful. Please don't be cowards.


Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Apr 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

"Sacrifice to succeed," what on earth are you talking about? Which blogs? (I'd love to see them.)

Story headlines are occasionally rewritten to reflect developments in the story, or to fit better on the screen, or just to be more accurate. To my knowledge no Voice headline was ever written or rewritten to kowtow to "the blogs."

Advice: don't anonymously call people cowards. Looks bad.


Posted by Sacrifice to succeed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Don your advice to me is correct to not call the Voice editors cowards. The more appropriate description of the Voice editors that change/rewrite the articles is deceivers. I appreciate the way you conveniently wrote to CYA, "Story headlines are occasionally rewritten to reflect developments in the story, or to fit better on the screen, or just to be more accurate". Nice touch but what a load of BS. The Voice blogs limit the number of web links so Don I have to reply to your challenge in multiple blog entries.

You asked for examples of blogs that have changed, here you go Don, Part 1:
Next in line to be cut: ESL class at Castro - Uploaded: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 11:19 AM
Web Link
Next in line to be cut: ESL class at Castro - News - Friday, April 24, 2009
Web Link
Next in line to be cut: ESL class at Castro - posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Apr 25, 2009 at 11:59 pm
Web Link

Essentially the Voice's version of "rewriting" articles is a shell game and/or smoke and mirrors (the Bush Administration used the same tactics). I'm confident if I look back further, I'd find more stories that were "rewritten" by the Voice editors. However the examples above will suffice.


Posted by Sacrifice to succeed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Part 2 to Don Frances' challenge.

Another example of blogs that have changed on the Voice:
National group targets local Day Worker Center - Uploaded: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:22 PM
Web Link
National group targets local Day Worker Center – News - Friday, April 17, 2009
Web Link
National group targets local Day Worker Center – posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Apr 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm
Web Link
National group targets local Day Worker Center – Uploaded: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:22 PM
Web Link
National group targets local Day Worker Center – Uploaded: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:22 PM
Web Link


Posted by Sacrifice to succeed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Part 3 to Don Frances' challenge.

Another example of blogs that have changed on the Voice:
Feds say Lozano's bilked workers - News - Friday, April 10, 2009
Web Link
Feds say Lozano's bilked workers – posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Apr 3, 2009 at 2:17 pm
Web Link
Feds say Lozano's bilked workers – Uploaded: Friday, April 3, 2009, 12:07 PM
Web Link
Feds say Lozano's bilked workers – posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Apr 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm
Web Link

Essentially the Voice's version of "rewriting" articles is a shell game and/or smoke and mirrors (the Bush Administration used the same tactics). I'm confident if I look back further, I'd find more stories that were "rewritten" by the Voice editors. However the examples above will suffice.

When I read articles that promote going out of the way to help illegal immigrants with tax payer dollars, such as the ESL classes at Castro, I'm compelled to speak out against such use of taxes. With the present economic environment helping U.S. citizens and legal immigrants should be paramount. It's also important to acknowledge the beautiful city of Mountain View is starting to deteriorate. It's becoming a de-facto sanctuary city, quite possibly turning into another East Palo Alto or very similar (high crime rates, horrible schools, etc.).

The Voice should print and allow blogs for both sides of any article that makes it on the paper or the website. I hope the Voice and its staff will uphold, in my opinion at least, the most important Amendment of the Constitution, the First Amendment.


Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Apr 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

"Sacrifice":

I'm not sure what you think you've discovered here. You have provided links to different versions of the same stories. The ones that say "Uploaded" went directly onto our Web site's main page. The ones that say "News" are duplicates from our print editions (Web Link), and the ones that say "Posted by" point to the Town Square comment threads on those stories, like the one we're communicating on right now.

More to the point, the headlines on all these examples are either identical or near identical. So what's your point? Also, I don't think you know what the word "blog" means.

In short, you've got me and everybody else completely befuddled.

If you want to post your opinion about ESL classes or anything else, you can -- in fact, you just did.


Posted by Sacrifice to succeed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Don you've proved my point.


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