Oxnard Youth Committee Brings Accountability to English Learner Education

 
In 2009, under pressure from the state of California, the Oxnard Union High School District wrote a Master Plan for English Learners to reform their support services for immigrant students.  Initial improvements in English Learner education were hindered by budget cuts that removed special counselors from the schools and district staff supporting English Learners.  
 
When Hueneme High School students involved with CAUSE learned of a recent ACLU report highlighting ongoing problems and listing their district as 6th in the state for number of English Learners not receiving adequate services, they jumped into action.
They spread the word at school, met with School Board Trustee Steve Hall, contacted the Ventura County Star and made a public comment to the board.  The president of CAUSE’s committee at Hueneme High School was quoted in the newspaper in an article covering their action.  
 

The students learned that the English Learner Coordinating Council (ELCC), the key accountability mechanism in the district’s Master Plan for English Learners, had not met in two years since the arrival of the new superintendent.  Every month the superintendent is required to meet with all principals in the district and English Learner educators and staff to discuss progress, challenges and best practices.  CAUSE youth leaders Evelyn Garcia and Jessica Torres wrote a letter to the school board demanding the ELCC be restored, got it signed by their fellow students, and presented it to the school board.  
 
In less than a month, the ELCC met again after being absent for two years.  The room was packed with administrators, educators, counselors, students and community members committed to getting more EL students to graduation and success.  District EL staff noted the persistently high dropout rate of EL students, despite significant improvements in the overall graduation rate in the previous year and agreed to focus on raising graduation rates for English Learners.
 

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