Funding boost for Jobs Program English-language learners

Jul 21, 2013 by

jobs programGov. Brian Sandoval called it historic. State Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis called it momentous. No state legislator voted against it.

The Clark County School Board unanimously approved it.

But for some, the state’s $50 million in new spending for English-language learners smacks of special treatment and seems like an unjust, unfair burden on taxpayers who must subsidize the education of a select group of outsiders.

These views — expressed in newspaper comment sections and on call-in radio shows — dramatically differ from the bipartisan comity among elected officials, representing a backlash to the unanimous opinions of the political and education officials who pushed the bill at the Legislature.

Now the funding’s supporters are busy trying to hammer home the facts and dispel myths associated with English-language learners, and in doing so they’re engaging in sometimes difficult conversations about race, class, identity and immigration.

A caller from Las Vegas told KNPR’s “State of Nevada” talk show last week that he has a child in first grade who isn’t getting help from the Clark County School District.

“How can I justify requesting millions of dollars for foreign kids when we can’t even help our own kids here in our own state?” said the caller, who identified himself as Dmitri. “When you have other people from other countries coming here, and I understand their kids need to learn the language, but shouldn’t that fall back on them, that expense?”

On the other end of the line were Sylvia Lazos, a UNLV law professor who supports funding to help children learn the English language, and Sonya Horsford, education professor at the Lincy Institute at UNLV.

“The assumption that students whose home language is not English are foreign or not our responsibility is a problem,” said Horsford, who encouraged the caller to press the issue with his child’s school so that the child could receive help.

The caller’s concerns were characteristic of the remarks of other commenters who encourage charging tuition for English classes or ask why “foreigners,” “invaders,” “illegal aliens” or children other than their own should be receiving extra help.

via Funding boost for English-language learners prompts some backlash – Las Vegas Sun News.

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