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Third time charm for ESOL teacher training plan?

Teachers of students learning English have seen the Senate's last-minute proposal to lower the number of hours required for teacher training before. Twice.

The Florida Department of Education asks for 300 hours of training for teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL. In 2007, state Sen. Stephen Wise, a Jacksonville Republican, tried to drop that to 60 hours, saying the requirement was driving teachers out of Florida. Teachers have to complete the extra training, often at their own expense, in addition to the 15 college credits -- about 300 hours -- required to become a reading teacher.

Miami-Dade, with its more than 57,000 ESOL students, was the only county to oppose the measure, with ESOL activists arguing that the extra lessons were necessary. Gov. Charlie Crist eventually vetoed the bill -- which Wise pushed again last year. A version made it through the House, lowering the 300-hour requirement to 180 hours, but an unhappy Wise let the bill die without a Senate vote.

The bill did not make it out of a committee and onto the floor this year. So Wise, the Senate chair of a compromise committee on the education budget, tried a different tack and snuck it onto the Senate's budget proposal Thursday as a pilot program to start in three school districts this fall.

"We're trying to get a happy medium for all parties," Wise said.

Critics say the plan is too hasty and would require money the state and school districts don't have. Will the House take the bait? Stay tuned.


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This just shows you just how sneaky a legislator can be. Senator Wise is not just going against the Governor from his own party, he's just not disrespecting all his peers in the Legislature, he's trying to subvert the wish of all Floridians and pull another quick one. This reminds all of us of the class size scam ex-Governor Jeb Bush once perpetrated on the voters of our State. This is legislating under the sunshine ?

Eric Dwyer

The proposed experiment on non-English speaking children would never clear a university's internal review board, nor should it. The proposal is to run an experiment on kids, namely language minority children. The presumption is that there are no data to support the idea of Reading teachers measuring up to ESOL instructors.

There's plenty of data showing that ESOL training works more often than not, and there are many ways to link that progress to pre-service training. Furthermore, in places where bilingual education is nixed, teachers still try to take as many ESOL training sessions as they can, simply because they see their need to do so, in spite of the laws. We're fortunate in Florida that we haven't gone that route yet.

So, when thinking about helping children, why would you allow someone to experiment on your children, giving them access to less-trained and indeed often less interested teachers? Exposing them to mind-numbingly boring strategies, which have been dissed even by reading specialists for the native English speaking community?

The stuff didn't even work for native English speakers very well. Why now experiment on ESOL kids by having them to the same boring stuff, when a good trained ESOL teacher (something on the order of 300 hours or thereabouts) is less likely to do such?

This is a civil rights issue, and a quarter million children and their families would pay a huge price if this becomes a go.

Please call and email your legislators and the governor. Please ask them to stop this action.


The Herald stands corrected. Dade is not the only school district to officially oppose this measure. So have Broward, Polk, Orange, Lee and a number of other counties throughout the state. Professor Dwyer is absolutely on the mark: this is not the time to experiment with our children. How would you explain to them the day of their graduation that they were the object of this experimentation without their consent. Even universities had to sign off on experimentation of animals. How does the State Department of Education justify supporting Senator Wise's proposal? Please speak up and defend the children you are supposed to serve and protect.

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Teacher, I moved for you, I love you, I love our class. You are my second mother, this class is our second home

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