Robert Strong

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Robert  Strong's picture

ELL Working Group idea stripped from proposals

Students in racially and ethnically diverse classrooms do, in fact, perform better—all students. In addition, the single research study cited by the Redistricting Committee concludes, all students perform better in majority-white classrooms. Leaving aside that this study has nothing to say about ELL or immigrant populations, its ideal kind of diversity is a McMahon or Montello diversity. If we must make the mistake of using ELL as proxy for race, as the Redistricting Committee does, the study they cite would demand that Longley (61%) and Farwell (5%) be desegregated. This study certainly does not point us to redistrict our three “best diversity” schools and leave our three “worst diversity” schools untouched.

In the period of time projected in the Redistricting Committee proposal, our ELL population will go from 23% to 30%. This projection is not included in their presentation, and it reveals the current Montello numbers (37%) to be our closest approximation of how our classrooms will develop in coming years. We should embrace this future with good cheer, positive community bonds, and solid planning from the School Committee.

The two very different alternative proposals I put forward, so that the School Committee would have the widest range of information and options from which to build their own best redistricting plan, both contained a mechanism for addressing ELL with some substance—something we see in no other proposals—an ELL Working group composed of educators, parents, and community partners.

I was shocked to see that this simple, and much-needed, mechanism was **stripped** from my alternative proposals in their form presented to the School Committee last night. The Redistricting Committee did not inform me they would revise a good ELL idea right out of my proposals.

This is a no-brainer: a cost-free, rational mechanism for moving forward ELL instruction in Lewiston. Or, at the very least, for creating a space where people can come together, work together, and think together about one of the most important things for our good schools. Why this simple mechanism, which is something everyone can agree on as a positive, was stripped from my proposals last night is beyond me. The School Committee is still free, of course, to build it or something similar into their own final redistricting plan.

~Robert Strong

Robert  Strong's picture

Alternative Proposal ELL Working Group

The most important component of both the two alternative proposals I have put forward is not mentioned here: **the formation of an ELL Working Group composed of educators, parents, and community partners.**

The redistricting committee DID NOT discuss the ELL component of the alternative proposals when they voted on February 4 to “not accept” them. (A vote that does not bind the school committee.)

To be clear: the redistricting committee REFUSED to “accept,” or even discuss, a reasonable and cost-free ELL measure that is long-overdue in Lewiston. This is just plain weird-- and more than troubling.

Parents, voters, and educators should be disturbed that the redistricting committee gave zero consideration to the ELL Working Group. This committee claims its proposal is about equity for ELL students, but it did not discuss forming a body whose very focus would be ELL students.

On February 11, the School Committee is going to hear the redistricting committee's proposal, which justifies itself on ELL numbers, from a group unwilling to even discuss a serious and simple idea for working on ELL in our schools-- inexcusable.

The good news is that School Committee is not bound by the limited imagination of the redistricting committee's proposal; they are free to construct an intelligent plan from the many good ideas in front of them and their own best judgment.

~Robert Strong

Robert  Strong's picture

Correction: Meeting, Mon., Jan. 7, 4:30 in Dingley Room, Dingley

The meeting of the Redistricting Committee this Monday night, Jan. 7, is at 4:30 in the Dingley Building, 36 Oak Street. Not in the Multipurpose center. Below is the schedule for all relevant meetings.

Monday, Jan. 7, 4:30 pm
Dingley Room, Dingley Bldg
Redistricting Committee
To consider input from three community sessions held to-date

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 6:00 pm
McMahon School
Community Session
To share revised draft redistricting plan and receive feedback

Thursday, Jan. 10, 2:00 pm
Longley School
Community Session
To share revised draft redistricting plan and receive feedback

Monday, Feb. 5, 4:30 pm
Dingley Room, Dingley Bldg
Redistricting Committee
To consider input from community sessions

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7:00 pm
Martel School
Community Session
To share revised draft redistricting plan and receive feedback

Monday, Feb. 11, , 4:30 pm
Dingley Room, Dingley Bldg
Redistricting Committee
Tentative meeting to finalize proposed redistricting plan

Monday, Feb. 11, , 6:45 pm
Multipurpose Room, LHS
School Committee
Presentation of proposed redistricting plan and alternatives

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 6:00 pm
Council Chambers, City Hall
City Council Workshop
Presentation of proposed redistricting plan and alternatives

Monday, Feb., 25, 6:45 pm
Location to be determined
School Committee
Possible adoption of a plan for 2013-14 school year