Sent to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, December 13, 2014
"A longtime teacher and foe of the district" and his wife have made a formal complaint to the Rochester school district about bilingual education, which they claim is not helping children acquire English ("City teacher files rights complaints on students’ behalf," December 12).
The Democrat and Chronicle points out that state law requires English learners to be a class that helps them acquire English, but does not mention that study after study shows that children enrolled in properly designed bilingual programs do better than children in all-English programs on tests of English. Recent research has confirmed that this difference is substantial and consistent across a wide range of scientific studies.
Recent research: McField, G. and McField, D. "The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses." In Grace McField (Ed.) The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.
Original article: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/12/12/rochester-teacher-alleges-discrimination/20301613/
City teacher files rights complaints on students’ behalf
Democrat and Chronicle, Dec. 12, 2014
A Rochester School District teacher has filed two federal civil rights complaints against the district for discrimination against special education students and English language learners.
Josh Mack also is creating a new parents organization that he promises will bring forth more such complaints.
One complaint, filed in August, describes a situation at the Young Mothers and Interim Health Academy on Hart Street, where Mack taught math. He wrote that a 19-year-old girl with only a few high school credits was placed in his Algebra 2 and Trigonometry class, despite having failed the Algebra 1 exam on four occasions.
“The district was well aware she could not perform at this level but placed her in the class anyway,” he wrote. “(She) often displayed frustration through being verbally abusive to staff (and) eventually ... stopped attending school.”
Mack counted the problem as a violation of the girl’s civil rights, as a minority member and as a person with a disability.
The second complaint was filed earlier this month by Mack and Ana Casserly on the topic of bilingual education for Latino children who do not speak English proficiently. It accuses the district of unfairly placing them in “segregated” bilingual classrooms, where part of the instruction is in Spanish, rather than helping them learn English in an immersion program.
State law requires that people learning English be placed in a language support class of some sort, but the complaint alleges the district’s policies have the effect of unfairly segregating English language learners.
Mack is a longtime teacher and foe of the district. He has sued it on several occasions, most recently this year when his private tutoring company lost its business with the district.
Federal civil rights complaints are generally not made public, but Mack provided redacted copies.
In a statement, district spokesman Chip Partner said: “The district takes any credible complaint of discrimination seriously. We are cooperating fully with the Office of Civil Rights and investigating internally to determine whether the individualized education plans of any students at Young Mother’s and Interim Health Academy were not followed properly.”
Regarding the second complaint, Partner said the district has not yet been notified. An internal investigation would not be warranted, though, he said, because “the district is always working to improve services to students with limited English proficiency.”
Also Thursday, Mack announced the formation of a new not-for-profit parents group, the Rochester Parents Association. It is envisioned as a sort of bargaining unit for parents, with paid staff that would be eligible to receive federal parent engagement money.
Mack is still raising money to get it off the ground but promised it will be a strong voice for parents.
“Parents are students’ first and most influential teachers,” he said. “The relationship between parents and the district has become extremely toxic and downright adversarial.”