Damian Tryon checked a little box when he registered his son Ethan for kindergarten. It indicated that the family predominantly spoke Spanish at home.

At the time, Tryon had no idea his son would be classified as an English-learner, and that the designation would follow his son for years, having a profound impact on his education.

It’s been difficult, Tryon said, to simply tell the school district his son is bilingual and that’s not, itself, a major problem.

This week, hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn take a new approach to the podcast by weaving Damian and Ethan’s story into the larger question of how our city, state and country is educating English-learners.

In November, voters will weigh the California Multilingual Education Act. The measure would essentially gut Proposition 227, the controversial statue that banned bilingual education in most classrooms unless parents specifically opt in.

Conor Williams, the founding director of the nonprofit New America’s dual language learner national work group, joins the show to provide some statistics and context on the issue. Williams drops a bombshell when he shares which state is actually leading the way when it comes to its approach to English-learners.

“I’m amazed every time I say it – I can’t even believe it myself,” he said.

VOSD’s education reporter Mario Koran also makes an appearance to talk about his New America fellowship and the future of his weekly column, The Learning Curve.

What’s Working

We’ve mentioned dual-language immersion schools in the past. There are 82 schools in San Diego that educate students in two languages. Two schools doing it well are the EJE Academies Charter School in El Cajon and the Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School. The two schools are recognized nationally for their efforts in providing a bilingual education to a diverse body of students.

Number of the Week

75 percent: That’s the number of California English-earner students in middle and high school who are considered “long-term English learners,” which means they’ve been designated as English-learners for at least seven years.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

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Correction: In the podcast and an in earlier version of this post, we incorrectly described the number of the week. Seventy-five percent refers to the number of English-learner middle and high school students in California who are considered long-term English-learners.

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. She also managed VOSD’s podcasts and covered...

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