SFUSD teachers may be booted

Every public school instructor in The City will likely have to obtain credentials by Jan. 20 to teach students who are not proficient in English or their jobs could be on the line.

In the years since the state settled the landmark 2005 class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union to improve the education of students at California public schools, the San Francisco Unified School District has told teachers they must have the state’s Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development, or CLAD, certificate.

In 2007, about 900 district teachers didn’t have the certificates or had expired permits, according to district documents. That number has been reduced to about 100, according to Superintendent Carlos Garcia’s office.

To get the credential, educators need to take an exam that costs about $300 or take 12 units of college courses in relative subject matter.
Garcia has pushed the Board of Education to approve a policy that would require every teacher in the district to have the added credential.

According to district data for the 2008-09 school year, 27.9 percent of students are categorized as English learners. It’s likely that every classroom has at least one, according to Christina Wong, special assistant to Garcia.

A mandate for the certificate is needed because “the Williams settlement act renews the focus to the requirement that all teachers of English learners must hold an appropriate English-learner authorization, regardless of the number of [English-learning] students in the classroom,” a district document dated Oct. 27 said.

And now, after years of encouraging teachers to get the CLAD certificate — including offering tuition free or tuition assistance programs for CLAD certification to all teachers, according to the district — the board is expected to pass a resolution in the coming weeks to impose a Jan. 20 deadline. Teachers without the certificate will face sanctions that may include termination, involuntary unpaid leave and being laid off, Wong said.

“It’s been like, ‘Please do this. Please do this. It’s really important that you do this,’” she said. “I guess at the end of the day, it’s really letting teachers know that the district is taking this very seriously.”

The United Educators of San Francisco union has voiced opposition to the deadline. Some teachers may have plans to retire in spring, haven’t been given enough notice to renew their credentials or simply don’t have the time, staff representative Susan Solomon said.

But if the board votes to enforce the deadline, teachers will have to submit proof of their CLAD or proof of an emergency renewal.

Proper paperwork

Sample question on the CLAD certification exam:

1. Which of the following best describes an effective application of research on cultural factors that influence English learners’ school achievement?

A. A teacher adapts instructional practices to respond to English learners’ culturally influenced approaches to learning.

B. A teacher develops a curriculum designed to immerse English learners in mainstream U.S. culture.

C. A teacher organizes instructional activities so that English learners with the same cultural background tend to be grouped together.

D. A teacher focuses on language instruction with English learners and minimizes instruction related to culture.

Correct response: A. Statistics reveal that many English learners do not achieve their full potential in school. Researchers attribute this finding to disparities between the home and school culture, and they advocate for the use of culturally responsive instructional practices that accommodate diverse approaches to learning.

Source: California Teachers of English Learners

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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