Hillsborough, New Jersey: English-only policy rejected by committee, but not board member

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Oct 18 18:49:19 UTC 2008

English-only policy rejected by committee, but not board member
Thursday, October 16, 2008 12:15 PM EDT
By Eileen Oldfield Staff Writer

   HILLSBOROUGH -- If the Board of Education is going to consider a
policy declaring English as the official language, board member Frank
Blandino will have to make the motion — and may do so at next week's
meeting.    Mr. Blandino posed a question about directing a policy
draft after hearing the Policy Committee's report at the board's
Monday meeting. Committee Chairman Marc Rosenberg said the committee
had determined an official district language was unnecessary during
his report of the committee's meeting.    "I think we all agree that
our goal is that every student reads, writes and speaks English," Mr.
Blandino said after hearing the report. "I'd like to know what the
Policy Committee's thinking was."

   To direct a policy draft, Mr. Blandino would need to make a motion
at the board's Oct. 21 meeting, which would be put to a board vote. If
the majority of the board supported the motion, the policy would be
drafted.    The matter came up after Mr. Blandino mentioned seeing
Spanish signs in a district elementary school at the Board's July 21
meeting, and asked about it again at the Aug. 18 meeting.    Mr.
Rosenberg said neither the town, state, nor federal government
designated an official language for its practices.

   "It wasn't necessarily our jurisdiction to do this," Mr. Rosenberg
said during the discussion section of the meeting. "It changes nothing
because we do teach in English. We just felt it was inappropriate to
have an official policy."    The signs Mr. Blandino had referred to
are an instructional aid for the school's Spanish program, and are
part of an exercise that has students identify various parts of a
building through Spanish rather than English.    Board members Greg
Gillette and Wolfgang Schneider supported Mr. Blandino's position.

   "It seems obvious that all our regularly instructed classes should
be in English," Mr. Gillette said. "Today, I don't think you could
find an immigrant parent in our school district that would oppose a
full immersion class."    But other board members questioned whether
the district had enough students to require a policy, and whether
there was a reason to draft a policy.  "I recall in a past debate the
question, 'why here, why now,'" Mr. Rosenberg said. "As a board
member, and not as the Policy Committee Chair, someone would have to
tell me why. I hear a request, but I don't hear a why."

   "If you look at all the (No Child Left Behind) data, we don't have
enough LEP (Limited English Proficiency) people to be counted (under
the testing designations)," Steven Paget said. "It's not a problem
we're having."    According to the standardized testing data presented
earlier in the meeting, the district lacked the 30 students needed to
report the test scores in most grades.    The Board of Education will
hold its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Auten Road Intermediate
School cafeteria.


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