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New York is expanding transferable high schools to help English learners

New York is expanding transferable high schools to help English learners

According to a senior department official, New York City education officials plan to expand the number of transferable high schools that can serve students learning English as a new language, using the Bronx School for beginning immigrants as one model.

The city has told a few details, but the move could be the answer on the calls of lawyers who want more support in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx for new immigrant students who may have difficulty finding schools that meet their academic needs and may eventually not complete their studies on time or even stay in school. The city identifies the novice immigrant as a person who has resided in the United States for three years or less, but officials have not specified whether other students studying English will qualify for the position.

Education Collaborative sought such investments before the pandemic, claiming that new immigrant students can combine work and family responsibilities, do not know English, or have spent years without formal education before arriving in New York, but cannot find high schools that meet their academic and socio-emotional needs. These supporters are working with education officials to develop a pilot program in which more English as a New Language teachers and bilingual social workers will work in some of the city’s existing translation schools that are designed for any student who is unable. finish on time. Sixteen percent of English language learners dropped out last year, compared to 5 percent of all students in the city.

The main goal of the pilot program is to provide more intensive support to schools in the areas where immigrants actually live. Four of the five existing translation schools serving students learning English as a New Language are located in Manhattan and one in the Bronx, although most new immigrants aged 14-21 live in the Bronx, followed by Queens and Brooklyn, according to census analyzed by the Institute of Migration Policy.

In April, department officials said they had worked with supporters of the idea, but any decisions would include “contributions from our leaders, school leaders and communities.” On Tuesday, Deputy Chancellor Caroline Quintana said that next school year the city plans to “expand the number of schools with translation that currently cater to the needs of our English-speaking population.” She pointed to English language learners and the International Preparatory Support Academy in the Bronx as role models. ELLIS Prep is one of five urban translation schools for English learners, and specifically caters to beginners.

Quintana told city council members that they want to develop individual schools further that will serve these students “and, if possible … design or find existing translation schools so they can meet the needs of our English-speaking students using models that are already successful. “

Educational cooperation proposed pilot program It will cost $ 8.2 million over three years to reach 400 immigrant students, and $ 2.1 million next academic year alone. The money will flow into several existing translation schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. In addition to ENL teachers and bilingual social workers, the money will cover overtime work for teachers planning summer and extracurricular programs, training current teachers to work with new immigrant students, student internships, full community support and student enrichment programs who are two or more years below the level of a native language class in literacy, numeracy, or both.

The Department of Education is examining areas where programs like ELLIS Prep do not currently exist, and are working very closely with our school designers to make these decisions and build them as soon as possible, ”Quintana said.

A spokesman for the department declined to answer questions about Quintana’s comments, including whether she meant the pilot proposed by defenders, saying only: “More soon.”

Lawyers, who on Wednesday held a rally on the steps of the Department of Education in support of the city’s expansion of these programs, were surprised by Quintana’s comments. Officials have not confirmed to supporters that they will expand the programs, but have previously said they are “committed” to getting them to work, said Andrea Ortiz, education policy manager at the New York Immigration Coalition, which worked on the pilot program.

“We haven’t heard anything about the new schools, but we will take them when they come,” Ortiz said. “We know this is a long-term process – it may take several years to find funding for it. So the pilot program was a great first step: we can create a model, and then when we have the funding and the energy for a new school, we know what to do and how to implement it. ”

ELLIS Prep director Norma Vega said she was “grateful” for her school being considered a model, but she had heard nothing from department officials about help with duplication. Last month, she said, department staff visited her school, but the initiative was not mentioned.

Instead of creating individual programs, Vega believes the city should focus on creating special new schools like it for new immigrants, primarily because she believes the principal should focus solely on that group of students because they may have varying degrees of high needs.

But with immersion registration, city ​​officials may find it difficult to justify opening new schools.

“If a leader doesn’t get carried away with it, it won’t work,” Vega said.

Rome Amen is a reporter covering New York City schools with a focus on public policy and English language learners. Contact Reema at ramin@chalkbeat.org.

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