Resolution on improving English language acquisition and application skills of African American students

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Jul 6 12:14:26 UTC 2007


      From Diverse Online

Archives 1997
*Resolution of the Board of Education adopting the report and
recommendations of the African American task force; A policy statement and
directing the superintendent of schools to devise a program to improve the
English language acquisition and application skills of African American
students
*By Diverse Staff
Jul 5, 2007, 14:56

 Whereas, numerous validated scholarly studies demonstrate that
African-American students as a part of their culture and history [as] an
African people possess and utilize a language described in various scholarly
approaches as "Ebonics" (literally "Blank sounds") or "Pan-African
Communication Behaviors" or "African Language Systems"; and

Whereas, these studies have also demonstrated that African Language Systems
are genetically based and not a dialect of English; and

Whereas, these studies demonstrate that such West and Niger-Congo African
languages have been officially recognized and addressed in the mainstream
public educational community as worthy of study, understanding or
application of its principles, laws and structures for the benefit of
African-American students both in terms of positive appreciation of the
language and these students' acquisition and mastery of English language
skills; and

Whereas, such recognition by scholars has given rise over the past fifteen
years to legislation passed by the State of California recognizing the
unique language stature of descendants of slavers, with such legislation
being prejudicially and unconstitutionally vetoed repeatedly by various
California state governors; and

Whereas, judicial cases in states other than California have recognized the
unique language stature of African-American pupils, and such recognition by
courts has resulted in court-mandated educational programs which have
substantially benefitted African American children in the interest of
vindicating their equal protection of the law rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution; and

Whereas, the Federal Bilingual Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1402 et seq.)
mandates that local educational agencies "build their capacities to
establish, implement and sustain programs of instruction for children and
youth of limited English proficiency"; and

Whereas, the interests of the Oakland Unified School District in providing
equal opportunities for all of its students dictate limited English
proficient educational programs recognizing the English language acquisition
and improvement skills of African-American students are as fundamental as is
application of bilingual education principles for others whose primary
languages are other than English; and

Whereas, the standardized tests and grade scores of African-American
students in reading and language arts skills measuring their application of
English skills are substantially below state and national norms and that
such deficiencies will be remedied by application of a program featuring
African Language Systems principles in instructing African-American children
both in their primary language and in English; and

Whereas, standardized tests and grade scores will be remedied by application
of a program with teachers and aides who are certified in the methodology of
featuring African Language Systems principles in instructing
African-American children both in their primary language and in English. The
certified teachers of these students will be provided incentives including,
but not limited to, salary differentials,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education officially
recognizes the existence, and the cultural and historic bases of West and
Niger-Congo African Language Systems, and each language as the predominantly
primary language of African-American students; and

Be it further resolved that the Board of Education hereby adopts the report,
recommendations and attached Policy Statement of the District's
African-American Task Force on language stature of African-American speech;
and

Be it further resolved that the Superintendent in conjunction with her staff
shall immediately devise and implement the best possible academic program
for imparting instruction to African-American students in their primary
language for the combined purposes of maintaining the legitimacy and
richness of such language whether it is known as "Ebonics," "African
Language Systems," "Pan-African Communication Behaviors" or other
description, and to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English
language skills; and

Be it further resolved that the Board of Education hereby commits to earmark
District general and special funding as is reasonably necessary and
appropriate to enable the Superintendent and her staff to accomplish the
foregoing; and

Be it further resolved that the Superintendent and her staff shall utilize
the input of the entire Oakland educational community as well as state and
federal scholarly and educational input in devising such a program; and

Be it further resolved that periodic reports on the progress of the creation
and implementation of such an educational program shall be made to the Board
of Education at least once per month commencing at the Board meeting of
December 18, 1996.

POLICY STATEMENT

There is persuasive empirical evidence that, predicated on analysis of the
phonology, morphology and syntax that currently exists as systematic, rule
governed and predictable patterns exist in the grammar of African-American
speech. The validated and persuasive linguistic evidence is that
African-Americans (1) have retained a West and Niger-Congo African
linguistic structure in the substratum of their speech and (2) by this
criteria are not native speakers of a Black dialect or any other dialect of
English.

"Moreover, there is persuasive empirical evidence that, owing to their
history as United States slave descendants of West and Niger-Congo African
origin, to the extent that African-Americans have been born into, reared in,
and continue to live in linguistic environments that are different from the
Euro-American English speaking population, African-American people and their
children, are from home environments in which a language other than English
language is dominant within the meaning of "environment where a Language
other than English is dominant" as defined in Public Law 103-382 (20 U.S.C.
7402, et seq.).

The policy of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is that all pupils
are equal and are to be treated equally. Hence, all pupils who have
difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding the English language
and whose difficulties may deny to them the opportunity to learn
successfully in classrooms where the language of instruction is English or
to participate fully in our society are to be treated equally regardless of
their race or national origin.

As in the case of Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American and all
other pupils in this District who come from backgrounds or environments
where a language other than English is dominant, African-American pupils
shall not, because of their race, be subtly dehumanized, stigmatized,
discriminated against or denied.

Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American and all other language
different children are provided general funds for bilingual education,
English as a Second Language (ESL) and State and Federal (Title VIII)
Bilingual Education programs to address their limited and non-English
proficient (LEP/NEP) needs. African-American pupils are equally entitled to
be tested and, where appropriate, shall be provided general funds and State
and Federal (Title VIII) bilingual education and ESL programs to
specifically address their LEP/NEP needs.

All classroom teachers and aides who are bilingual in Nigritian Ebonics
(African-American Language) and English shall be given the same salary
differentials and merit increases that are provided to the teachers of the
non-African-American LEP pupils in the OUSD.

With a view toward assuring that parents of African-American pupils are
given the knowledge base necessary to make informed decisions, it shall be
the policy of the Oakland Unified School District that all parents of LEP
(Limited English Proficient) pupils are to be provided the opportunity to
partake of any and all language and culture specific teacher education and
training classes designed to address their child's LEP needs.

On all home language surveys given to parents of pupils requesting home
language identification or designations, a description of the District's
programmatic consequences of their choices will be contained.

Nothing in this Policy shall preclude or prevent African-American parents
who view their child's limited English proficiency as being non-standard
English, as opposed to being West and Niger-Congo African Language based,
from exercising their right to choose and to have their child's speech
disorders and English Language deficits addressed by special education and/
or other District programs.


http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_8056.shtml
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