Fresno Unified School District is under fire for its English Language Development regimen for grades 7-12.
Wednesday, the Fresno Teachers Association (FTA), which is locked in a contract dispute with the district, filed an unfair practices charge against the district over the learning plan.
Driving the news: Fresno Unified’s program requires all secondary English language arts teachers to provide English learner students with 20 minutes per class period with designated English language development instruction.
- The FTA says FUSD’s split English language program is the only one of its kind in the state. All other districts have dedicated classes for English language development services for English learners.
- The FTA filed the unfair practices charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
- If the PERB finds that the charge sufficiently establishes a potential violation of employer conduct, the board will issue a complaint against the district.
- FUSD and the FTA would have to hold an informal settlement conference on the complaint if it is filed. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the complaint would go before a judge.
- District Spokesperson Nikki Henry told The Sun that the district’s English learner language students have been placed in the same English classes as other students for as long as she is aware.
- Last year the Federal Program Monitoring audit found that FUSD was not providing English learners in secondary schools to the standards that the district expects. FUSD has provided professional learning to all middle and high school English teachers to ensure they have the tools to provide instruction to the English learner students.
What they’re saying: FTA President Manuel Bonilla said English learners need to have dedicated instruction time to develop their English language skills, and the most successful practice is to hold designated classroom instruction for English learners.
- “It’s simple, with its new ELD requirement, Fresno Unified is prepared to punish all students – both English learners and native English-speaking students – by forcing them to lose critical instruction time in a core subject because a teacher is required to split their attention on a daily basis for more than one-third of a class period,” Bonilla said in a statement.
- Bonilla continued, “To add insult to injury, this requirement was instituted by Fresno Unified without proper consultation with FTA and constitutes a violation of our collective bargaining agreement by requiring English teachers to prepare and execute double the number of classes on their workload.”
- Henry told The Sun that the FTA continues to “obfuscate the issues.”
- “From the beginning Fresno Unified has been abundantly clear the 22/23 contract is closed and not subject to renegotiations,” Henry said. “Moreover, Fresno Unified is committed to our English Language Learners and their families. We fully stand behind our ELD instructional model which prioritizes inclusion and ensures the best access and outcomes for our English Learner students, who make up almost 20% of our student body.”