Veteran teacher Arthur Goldstein writes here about New York state’s cruel indifference to educating non-English-speaking students.

He writes:

President Trump commits outrages against humanity by separating newcomers from their families, leaving them without soap, blankets or toothbrushes. New York State would never do things like that. We’re more enlightened. Instead of depriving young immigrants of physical necessities, we simply decline to them their most fundamental educational need—instruction in English…

State officials, he asserts, decided to give ELL students less direct instruction in English, expecting they would pick up English in their regular subject classes.

This way, while native English speakers take 45 minutes to learn about the Battle of Gettysburg, newcomers would somehow learn not only about the battle, but also all the necessary vocabulary and culture in the same 45 minutes. Having less direct English instruction would somehow support this.

How would they accomplish this? I spoke face to face with NY Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia, who told me they would use “strategies and techniques.” You could’ve knocked me down with a feather. I’ve been teaching ESL for three decades. I know strategies and techniques. However, I don’t know of any that compensate for lack of time.

State officials, he writes, have cut ESL classes by 33-100%, then they wonder why ELLs are not succeeding.

Imagine how you’d feel if you went to China tomorrow, and they sat you in classes with almost no instruction in Chinese language. That would mirror official NY State policy. It’s a disgrace, in 2019, that we can’t do better. In NY State, we may not practice outright xenophobia, but our support for newcomers is dubious at best.