Florida Governor vetoes ESL Teacher Training bill

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Wed Jul 4 16:07:44 UTC 2007

Florida Governor Vetoes Bill About ESL Teacher Training

Florida Governor Charlie Crist vetoed a bill this week that would have
decreased the number of in-service hours in the area of English as a second
language required of reading teachers who work with English-language
learners. "I am concerned that this reduction may impede these students'
academic, social, and cultural progress," he said of the measure in his *June
28 letter explaining his
bill would have reduced the amount of required professional
to 60 hours from 300 hours. (I've taken the link to the veto letter from the
*Institute of Language and Education Policy
Gov. Crist also mentioned in his explanation of the veto that he'd received
a letter from the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus expressing concerns
about the bill.

Rosa Castro Feinberg, a retired associate professor of curriculum and
instruction at Florida International University, told me today she is
"ecstatic" that the Republican governor rejected the bill. She thinks it
would have lessened the quality of education for English-language learners
in Florida. As the manager of a listserv affiliated with the *Sunshine State
TESOL of Florida* <http://www.sunshine-tesol.org/>, Ms. Feinberg was a
leader in a campaign to convince the governor to veto it. See my earlier
post, *"Florida Teachers Disagree on Amount of Preparation for Reading

However, Constance Higginbotham, the president of the Clay County Education
Association, a group that worked to get the bill introduced and approved by
the Florida legislature, said she is disappointed that, in her view, "Gov.
Crist did not listen to reading teachers." She said in a phone interview
today, "He listened to Hispanic groups. There are 247 languages spoken in
the state of Florida--and he contacted only the Hispanics." She added: "When
I send my children to school, I want them to have an expert in whatever
subject they are studying. I don't think every teacher needs to be certified
in [English as a second language]. I want a math teacher who is certified in
math. I want a reading teacher who is certified in reading."

This policy debate about how much training regular teachers should have to
work with English-language learners will continue to pop up in various
states, I think.

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