ELL Legislative Briefing at State Capitol

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August 22, 2012 This year, the Legislature clearly had the needs of English Language Learners (ELL) on their minds, introducing numerous bills affecting ELL students. Because CCSA keeps the Legislature informed and engaged on topical issues affecting charter schools on August 9 we held a brown bag briefing on "English Language Learners in California's Charter Public Schools." Ana Ponce of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) and Eduardo DeLeon of Language Academy Sacramento (LAS) presented alongside CCSA staff, sharing best practices for educating ELL students and how their schools are making a difference in their communities.

CNCA schools are located in the Greater MacArthur Park neighborhood, which faces challenging socioeconomic and educational barriers. Altogether, 96% of students served by CNCA are eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch, which is 20% above the LAUSD average. Throughout her presentation, Ponce highlighted CNCA's excellent results educating ELLs. CNCA student population is 75.5% ELLs with Spanish being the number one language spoken at home. With five sites and a waiting list of over 1,200 students, there is no doubt that CNCA delivers great results. According to the CDE, 99% of Camino Nuevo High School students graduated in the 10-11 school year, which is far above the state average.

The success of CNCA relies on supporting the student as well as the family, and CNCA does this through community partnerships. In addition to providing parent workshops focusing on how parents can support their children academically, CNCA offers parents and families health education, fitness classes and a school-based health clinic. The idea of community partnership resonated with legislative staff, especially when Eduardo DeLeon shared that LAS also finds success in supporting and educating the whole child and working with the community to do so.

As described by DeLeon,

"The Language Academy of Sacramento, a K-8, two way Spanish immersion public charter school serving communities in South Sacramento, is entering its ninth year of operation. Our focus is on developing academic ability in English and Spanish, primarily for English Language Learners and under resourced students, in order to prepare them for the academic rigors of high school and the university, and to foster in them a life-long love of learning."

Throughout his presentation, DeLeon emphasized that LAS focuses on language development across all content areas and in a variety of settings in addition to the classroom. LAS has benefited from strong community relationships with like-minded organizations, and continues to be an advocate for two way immersion programs. CCSA strongly believes that the best way to make sure elected officials know about charter schools is by hearing from charter schools themselves. If you have an idea for a future brown bag briefing topic, or want to get more involved with CCSA's advocacy efforts, please email governmentaffairs@ccsa.org.