To the editors:

In response to the Notebook article “Immigrant communities decry cuts in services” (Spring 2007), the School District’s Office of Language, Culture and the Arts (OLCA) would like to share the following facts to rebut the charge that there has been “a string of declining services to immigrants.”

OLCA has ensured that all English Language Learners (ELLs), including immigrant children and youth, receive support or participate in the following activities:

  • “Refugee Programs” for the last four summers, successfully servicing more than 500 high school immigrants

  • Services of 80 “Bilingual Counselor Assistants,” who provide language translation and serve as cultural brokers in more than 140 schools

  • ELL parent meetings

  • Adult ESL Classes for parents of the Central East Region, Edison High School, Solis-Cohen and Hopkinson Elementary Schools, and Chinatown Learning Center

  • Translations of documents in multiple languages

  • A community advisory committee made up of representatives of all the communities represented in our student body

  • Spanish and Chinese language classes for adults in the Central East Region, at Taller Puertorriqueño, and at the 440 N. Broad St. Education Center

  • Cultural celebration of Hispanic Heritage, Asian Lunar New Year and Cambodian, Laotian and Thai New Year.

  • OLCA also improved the academic delivery in the Newcomer Program at South Philadelphia High School, with a “Student Success Center” and a state-of-the-art computer lab, while opening another Newcomer Program at George Washington High School.

    To ensure quality, OLCA conducted walkthroughs in all 140 ESOL/Transitional Bilingual Program schools. OLCA programs are monitored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and US Department of Education, receiving good feedback.

    Margaret M. Chin
    OLCA@phila.k12.pa.us
    The writer is officer of the Office of Language, Culture, and the Arts for the School District. More on this topic on Activism around the city.

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