Saturday, June 16, 2007

More ESL funding frustration

Two article from separate areas, one from here in Toronto and one from the U.S., document the ongoing funding problems for ESL students. The first reports that only half the ESL funds in the Toronto District School Board are used for ESL. The second catalogues the consequences of underfunding.
"The results of national testing conducted in 2005 shows that nearly half (46%) of 4th grade students in the English language learner (ELL) category scored "below basic" in mathematics in 2005--the lowest level possible. Nearly three quarters (73%) scored below basic in reading. In middle school achievement in mathematics was lower still, with more than two-thirds (71%) of 8th grade ELL students scoring below basic. Meanwhile, the same share (71%) of 8th grade ELL students scored below basic in reading."

1 comment:

Michael Stout said...

If memory serves, the largest wave of immigration in Canadian history occurred in the 90's. At the same time, ESL programmes were having their funding slashed and teachers were being laid off. Apparently, this rather ironic situation was due to the fact that people immigrating to Canada at this time were professionals, and consequently already proficient in English. Whether this was the case or not it boggles the mind that policy makers assumed that the children of these New Canadians would automatically be highly proficient in English.
The facts you report here make the situation appear even more bizarre. Why were funds for ESL programmes being cut when clearly the money was available. Where were the funds redirected?
I certainly hope that the social implications of all this are not as sever as those in the US.
Trouble is, mismanagement of funding for ESL isn't a sexy issue, and most of the people who could have an impact on further policy decisions probably think that everyone should already be fully fluent before they arrive in Canada.
Sorry if I seem cynical.