Filipino families call for more education resources in SFUSD

The San Francisco Unified School District is poised to hire its first full-time Tagalog-speaking teacher on special assignment to begin next school year, though parents are still calling for more resources to support Filipino programs from the district.

Parents and community supporters plan to rally at district offices this evening prior to the Board of Education meeting to insist that more money be set aside for Tagalog-speaking English-language learner students at the SFUSD.

The board tonight is set to vote on a nearly $60 million expenditure plan for the district’s Public Education Enrichment Fund, which requires The City to contribute specified money to school programs each year. San Francisco voters approved the PEEF’s renewal with the passage of Proposition C in November.

For the first time, the fund in the 2015-16 school year will allocate money for the SFUSD’s language programs, specifically $1.9 million that will allow the district to enhance its Tagalog and other language programs.

“The allocations really help support the expansion that’s happening at the elementary level, and [will help to] provide site-based development at the middle school level as well,” said Christina Wong, special assistant to the superintendent for the SFUSD.

Per the expenditure plan, the enrichment fund will contribute about 40 percent of the $92,000 annual salary of the full-time Tagalog-speaking teacher on special assignment, Wong said. That salary includes benefits. The district is also looking to expand Filipino-language enrichment programs to the third-grade level at Bessie Carmichael and Longfellow elementary schools, which both currently offer enrichment programs in kindergarten through second grades.

Bessie Carmichael, which has offered Filipino programs for more than 30 years, also offers a biliteracy pathways for its third- through fifth-graders.

Tagalog is also one of four world-language pathways taught at Balboa High School, but no middle schools currently offer Tagalog-language programs.

Emil De Guzman, a spokesman for the Linguistic and Kultura Advocacy Society that serves as a grass-roots coalition of Filipino parents, teachers and community-based organizations in San Francisco and is organizing today’s rally, said Tagalog should be offered in all grades in the SFUSD. “What it all comes down to is equity,” De Guzman said. “We [Filipinos] are about 5 to 6 percent of the school district and most are English-language learners.”

District officials said Tagalog has previously been taught in middle schools, but the program wasn’t sustainable. Part of the role for the new Tagalog-speaking teacher on special assignment will be to create a model for the middle school level.

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