In response to the article, “In DEI training, Oak Park board talks plain about English [News, July 12]:
As District 97 teachers of Multilingual Learners (ML), we agree with many important points discussed in the article. In particular the immense value of being multilingual (in terms of brain development, increasing cultural awareness, and increased job opportunities), along with the unfortunate skewed perception of multilingualism in the USA.
However, how students are identified and screened for ML services in D97 is often misunderstood. D97 follows ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) protocols for identifying students to screen for ML services.
ISBE states two critical steps in the identification of English learners:
“Districts shall administer a Home Language Survey (HLS) for every student enrolling in a public school” and “Districts shall administer an individual screener for English language proficiency to each student identified as a potential English learner through the HLS.”
These steps must be followed for all students and English learners. Please note that the survey has to be given upon enrollment to all students entering a public school district (23 Ill. Admin. Code 228.15). For students identified as potential ELS based on the responses of the HLS, a district must use the state-approved screening instrument to conduct an individualized assessment of English language proficiency (ELP).
Therefore when students enroll in D97, all guardians must complete an HLS, which asks: Is another language spoken in the home? Does the student speak another language? If yes to either question, the student must be screened in accordance with 23 Ill. Admin Code 228.15. We do not screen according to a student’s country of origin, ethnic or racial background, their physical appearance, or their name.
We look forward to more language-inclusive practices in all Oak Park entities, from village hall to D97 and District 200.
Liz Chase Vivas, Angelica Degante, Jennifer Jaros, Anna Missman, Kimberly O’Donnell, Deanna Otten
D97 Multilingual Learners teachers