LETTER TO THE EDITOR: 40-Plus Teachers Frustrated ELL Students Not Getting Services They Deserve

McCarthy Elementary School teachers and the Framingham Teachers Association are frustrated that in March some of our ELL students are still not receiving services they need which are mandated by the Department of Education.

This letter is a result of months of frustration and lack of progress regarding this ELL issue at McCarthy.

We are even more unhappy to find out that if these students were in any other Framingham Public elementary school they would be receiving these services.

All students should receive the same services no matter which of the nine elementary schools they attend in the Framingham Public School district. Services should be equitable across the district.

But this is not the first time that this has happened.

Last year, McCarthy was the only level 3 elementary school without full-time kindergarten aides. When the matter became public, after the mid-way point of the year, money was found for the aides.

We now feel that we need to go public about our students not receiving the services they need, again.

McCarthy has seen an influx of students whose first language is other than English.

In October, teachers began questioning why some of their ELL students were not being serviced.

All ELL students take the ACCESS test which provides a standardized measurement of academic language proficiency for ELL students.

Depending on the results, the students receive an English Language Proficiency Level between 1 (Entering) and 6 (Reaching). We were told that if the students at McCarthy scored higher than a 3.5 (Bridging) then they would not be receiving direct ELL services at McCarthy due to the shortage in staff.

When we questioned, Gen Grieci, the ELL Director, in December, we were told that if these students were in any other elementary school they would be receiving services. Both Gen Grieci and Matt Hanlon, our building principal, have been fighting for additional staff to be added at McCarthy.

When Dr. Scott met with the staff in January, he was asked to justify adding 3 Mandarin teachers to tier 1 of the budget. He explained that these positions were critical to the district. We then asked him why the district would begin a new program when we are not funding the programs we currently have.
We then explained how some of our ELL students were not receiving services. He said he knew he owed us answers and would have them for us soon.

Well we are still waiting, along with our students.

When a child moves into Framingham, they register at PIC. If a child is an ELL student, the parent must choose the best program based on their language acquisition. The form has a box for a Sheltered English Instruction program at all buildings. In this description, it states that the student will receive SEI instruction AS WELL AS direct ELL services. This form is signed by the parent. At that point the parent is expecting the district to provide these services to their child. Our parents have NEVER been notified that their children are not receiving the services owed to them according to the guidelines of the Department of Education.
This issue was brought to the attention of the School Committee in October during a meeting with the Framingham Teachers Association.

It was discussed with the Director of ELL services in December.
It was brought up with the superintendent during a building visit in January.

It has also been discussed a second time with the School Committee during another meeting with the FTA in March.
Our students are still not receiving services and those that are getting services fall short on what’s owed to them based on the guidelines provided by the Department of Education.
DESE guidelines: Foundational (WIDA Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3): At least 2-3 periods (a period is not less than 45 minutes) per day of direct ESL instruction, delivered by a licensed ESL teacher
*5 students receive 2 periods a day for 30 minutes
*1 student receives 1 period for 30 minutes 2 days a week and 2 periods a day for 30 minutes 3 days a week
*7 students receive 1 period a day for 30 minutes
DESE guidelines: Transitional (WIDA Level 3, Level 4 &Level 5): At least 1 period (a period is not less than 45 minutes) per day of direct ESL instruction, delivered by a licensed ESL teacher
*9 students receive these services

**20 STUDENTS ARE NOT RECEIVING ANY SERVICES!!

At the building level, we continue to rework schedules so that we can provide services to as many of these students as possible. This has been incredibly difficult with the limited resources we have.

As educators we know it is our job to fight for our students, but this issue has more than magnified the fact that McCarthy has been fighting an uphill battle to get our students what they need. The worst part about our fight is that it is with the central office administration and the school committee. Shouldn’t we all be fighting for the same thing? Shouldn’t ensuring that there is equity among all buildings and ensuring that the civil rights of our students are being met be the priority for all educators in this district?

If these families had advocates, would this be happening?
Why are we spending money on Mandarin teachers when we should be hiring additional ELL teachers at several of our buildings?

Framingham has their priorities backwards.

We urge Dr. Scott and the School Committee to do what’s right and “unfreeze” the budget in order to hire additional teachers!

Sincerely,
McCarthy Elementary School Staff
and the
Framingham Teachers Association
Lisa Zanella Lori Brockway Nicole Karpierz Cheryl Botelho Dan Santos
Kristine Parker Katherine McGrath Marianne Gately Sarah Lynch Leah Stacey
Kelly Gorring Debbie Chin Paulo Araujo Kelsey O’Hare James Parr
Margaret Wright Elena Staroselsky Shannon Call Danielle Muise Jane Murray
Gayle Goldstein Mary Lou Rawlings Carol Skaggs Bobbi Voss Eric Becker
Ron Johnson Stephanie Kogan Diane Comstock Nancy Golden Kelly Mello
Jennifer Jenkins Robin Goldweitz Jennifer Rigby Michelle Gerard Cara Sullo
Jennifer Callahan Laurand Bryant Margaret Cabot Nicole Rodriguez Yuki Shikichi
Christine Del’Olio Sara Burgwinkle Erin Malloy Marjorie Brockman Joanne Simpson
Mariann DeAraujo Shawna Graham Christie White Jennifer Chase Rachel Goldweitz
Michelle Masella Robin Eisenberg Kathy Kenney-Marshall Sarah McKeon Christine Mulroney

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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