To the editors:
As an ESL teacher at Morton Elementary, I know that our program does not fit with the negativity of your article “Not English-only”(Fall 2008). English language learners in our school are not “marginalized academically.” We, as a faculty, talk about the best ways to reach this segment of our population.
You said there were “no standards for exit into regular English classes.” There is a handbook that we refer to for exiting students. Students, when they are near exiting, should have already been placed in regular English classes or at least be receiving regular literacy instruction from the ESL teacher.
You quoted the superintendent reminding that “educating ELLs is not something that happens only with the ESOL teachers; it happens in the regular classroom.” For three years, our school has had a push-in program that does this. We have it because that is what was told to us by District ESL coaches, and it works.
You said that often “teachers and students become comfortable in an ESOL cocoon” and delay exiting. At Morton we are always working towards exiting students. We want students to be successful in the regular classroom – the sooner, the better.
You unfairly describe those like me who do mostly “push-in” as teachers who “help out” in the regular education class. I do more than help out. I do lesson plans. I teach whole-class social studies and writing. I team-teach on a daily basis.
We are doing something right. Our ESL students do well on the PSSA. The program here is not stagnant, as your article paints most ESL programs to be.