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Dual language program to continue-for now : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Dual language program to continue-for now

The Oswego School District's dual language program will continue as is for at least the next school year as an audit is completed on the district's entire English Language Learners (ELL) program.

As we've reported over the past few weeks, the possibility the school district would do away with the dual language program was a concern to many of the parents of the 367 students currently enrolled in the program which is offered to students from kindergarten age to eighth grade.

Based on public testimony from numerous parents and hard data presented to the school district board, the dual language program is succeeding. School District Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt told the board that 75 percent of the district's native English speaking students enrolled in dual language met or exceeded the state reading standards and 91 percent met or exceeded math standards. Meanwhile, 50 percent of the program's native Spanish speakers met or exceeded state math standards, and 38 percent met or exceeded state reading standards. Clearly, the numbers for native Spanish speakers aren't as good as the native English speakers, but they are still significantly better than the scores for the district's entire ELL program. Wendt reported that only 25 percent of students in ELL met or exceeded state math standards and 19 percent met or exceeded state reading standards.

We now look forward to the results of the audit of the ELL program, which will be presented to the board in October.

We're pleased the audit will examine the feasibility of offering the dual language program in the participating students' home schools. Currently, the program is offered only in Hunt Club Elementary School and Plank Junior High School, both in the Oswego portion of the district. In addition, we're encouraged that Dr. Wendt is not a fan of the current lottery system used to determine enrollment in the program. "As long as I'm superintendent, I will never recommend a program that has the word lottery in it. Ethically it is unacceptable for me to do that. The lottery system is not about public schools and public education," Wendt told the school board and parents. We agree that every student in the district should have equal access to every available program.

It's also encouraging to see so many parents become actively concerned about the fate of a school district academic program. The parents need to continue to press Wendt, other administrators and the school board to be as open and transparent as possible about the audit and the fate of the dual language program. Ultimately, the school administrators and school board are public servants and the parents and other school district taxpayers are their bosses-not the other way around.

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