The BPS English Learner’s Desk is just the latest turnstile

As for the Boston Public Schools English Learners Office (“Turnstile spins in BPS English learning office,” page 1, April 18), the worst part isn’t the turnover. It is the apparent absence of a BPS policy on the very existence of the office. The story reports: “One factor that may have played a role in the continued instability at the English Learners’ Office was Cassellius’ early belief that the office should not exist. Cassellius floated the idea of ​​dismantling the department. . . in the summer of 2019. »

Seventy-four languages ​​are spoken in the BPS. Forty-eight percent of our students’ first language is not English, or 22,200 students. Over 30% of BPS enrollments are officially classified as EL (English language learner), but this does not cover all students who need language support. The school results of these pupils clearly show the need for special measures. On MCAS 2021, 3% of Grade 10 students learning English in Boston achieved results in the first two levels of English. The rate for the district was 45%, while the state reached 64%. In math, 3% of EL students achieved the higher levels while the district scored 38% and the state 52%.

Yet we might not have had an English Learner’s Office. Cassellius is from Minnesota, where only 8.5% of K-12 students learn English. They didn’t need an EL office.

The EL office is only the last revolving door of the serially restructured central office. This is an indication of the need for a top-down analysis of the central administration structure by an external consultant before bringing in another superintendent who may have his own ideas about the administrative units the BPS needs. The city should determine its own school department org chart based on the needs of its student population, not the opinion or prior experience of whoever happens to be the superintendent.

Gary Kaplan

Executive director