Judge Orders Changes to Bilingual Education

By Camaron Abundes  
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Before kids head back to school this year, the Texas Education Agency is looking at big changes to Bilingual Education after a federal judge ordered the TEA to revamp it's program.

MALDEF or Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued the state citing high dropout rates among students who do not speak English as a first language. The North Texas Federal Judge sided with MALDEF on Friday and ordered the TEA to make the changes to the program at the secondary level before January, but what those changes may be is still unclear.

"These rulings don't just happen because the judge is in a good mood, they happen because they've looked at the facts, that merited this type of ruling," Lupe Hernandez, Director of Bilingual Education for E.C.I.S.D., said, "Anytime you we have requirements, it's because there has been some research that's been done."

E.C.I.S.D. officials say the District is 61 percent Hispanic and 3400 students are enrolled in Bilingual Education.

"I am sure there are going to be some changes for us," Hernandez said. She also says the state is already asking for data, "We're going to start identifying the type of program the students are receiving at the elementary level as well as the secondary level."

Texas schools offer Bilingual Education in Pre-K through 6th grade but in seventh grade students enter ESL or English as a Second Language, it's here the Judge wants to see changes.

"There are a lot of factors that play into the dropout rate," Hernandez said, who hopes the changes will help teachers in Ector County already fighting dropout rates, "We have checks and balances in place at E.C.I.S.D., to make sure when a student is struggling, he is identified early on and we offer intervention to try to help that student."

Hernandez says beyond teaching language, she wants to stress to parents getting involved is the best way to keep your kids in school.