Wednesday, December 13, 2006

San Francisco School Board passes historic policy on Bilingualism/Multilingualism for All


SFUSD forms new task force to plan pre-K-12th grade language programs

SFUSD Press Release - December 13, 2006 – The San Francisco Unified School District hopes to offer every student the opportunity to graduate from SFUSD fluent in English and at least one other language. On December 12, 2006, San Francisco Unified School District Board members voted unanimously for a resolution that will set up a task force to guide SFUSD in preparing students for success in a multilingual and multicultural world.

"This resolution states that our district values multilingualism – and the benefits of having bilingual people in our diverse communities and our City," said Commissioner Eric Mar.

The resolution presented by Commissioners Eric Mar, Dan Kelly and Norman Yee states "Preparing students for our world of multilingualism and multiculturalism has become an integral and indispensable part of any educational process in most developed countries and in more and more developing countries."

Many studies have proven that young children acquire second and third language skills with ease. Second language acquisition does not interfere with their ability to master their native language. Currently SFUSD graduating seniors are required to take only one year of a second language and kindergarten through eighth grade offerings are available in only some District schools.

"It's an exciting time to be a public school parent in San Francisco . This new resolution outlines the district's commitment to multilingualism where all students K-12 will enjoy some language enrichment whether it's immersion or another program," said SFUSD parent Maria Aldaz.

"Speaking as a parent of a 5th grader at Buena Vista , the city's oldest Spanish immersion program, I've experienced first hand the great education public schools offer in multiculturalism and multilingualism."

The 21 member Blue-ribbon Task Force will include parents, language experts, teachers, school planners, employee groups, business and civic leaders.

More info -


San Francisco School Board Notes also published a summary of the Board's historic policy -

Board OKs Sweeping Language Initiative

In an ambitious plan backed by the school board Tuesday night, SFUSD will aim to give very student in the district the opportunity to be a bilingual or multilingual graduate.

The board passed a unanimous resolution calling for the superintendent to draft a 21-member Blue Ribbon Task Force comprising parents, teachers, school planners, language experts, employee groups, business organizations and civic leaders to develop models for achieving this goal. The resolution also calls for the superintendent to use these findings to develop a plan for multilingual education, which will be presented to the board by Oct 1 of next year.

"This would not necessary be an all-immersion model," said Commissioner Dan Kelly, who authored the resolution along with Commissioners Norman Yee and Eric Mar. Immersion programs are expected to play a big part, however. The resolution builds on one passed earlier this year that called for expanding the district's popular two-way immersion programs and creating programs that could serve upper as well as lower grades.

The initiative approved Tuesday seeks not only to serve native English speakers, but also to help non-native speakers become English proficient while receiving a level of instruction equal to that of their English-speaking peers. The task force will work in concert with the district's Bilingual Community Council, which recently issued a report saying that English language learners are not being adequately served by the district's programs.

The move, board members said, could be an opportunity for the district to create a model for multilingual instruction with wide-ranging influence. "This is really cutting against the grain of an English-only wave that is going on in this country," Mar observed.

An obvious obstacle is funding such a large-scale effort at a time when the district faces dire budgetary constraints. "We're going to aggressively seek out external funding sources," Mar said. "We'll use every means at our disposal to find funds to pay for this program."

More from SF School board notes

Click here to access SF Board of Education Resolutions/Policies


Marianne Paredes said...

I was so excited to hear of this endeavor. As a bilingual (English/Spanish) mother of 6, I taught my own kids preschool over a period of 20 years so that I could incorporate Spanish into their daily teachings before they started Kindergarten with the hopes of them being bilingual someday. I'm happy to hear them speak Spanish as older children. I'm glad to see that your school district is catching the vision of the potential that people have, especially children, to be bilingual without leaving the country. I have no Hispanic blood in me and I've never lived in a foreign country, and yet I gained fluency by finding opportunities to use what I had learned in school. It is possible to do in this country. I have since written a curriculum and taught Spanish to many children besides my own. I applaud you. May your vision catch on throughout the rest of the country.
Marianne Paredes, author

Abigail said...

Thank you for your concise and informative summary of the resolution. I hope to keep the conversation going on the blog for the film Speaking in Tongues at