Letter to the Editor: The series on English language learners was misleading, one-sided journalism

Bethann Huston

What disappointing and one-sided journalism you exhibited in your article, “‘What are we doing wrong?’: A closer look into Summit School District’s ‘unacceptable’ scores.” As one of three English development teachers at Summit Middle School and the teacher of the student, Urbey Diaz, whom you quoted, I find your article about the experience of English language learners at Summit Middle School very biased and inaccurate. 

While I welcome a focus on the need to improve our performance and experiences for our English learners, the article was incredibly misleading. The last month has been confusing for our new immigrant student; however, the article characterizes Urbey as a student with few supports and little use of his native language for learning. Why didn’t the reporter ask one of his teachers to clarify what supports are in place? Our newcomer linguistics teacher is a multilingual teacher who speaks Spanish. Math lessons and assessments are translated into Spanish. Our newcomers have support classes for learning English and the language of math. They are offered books in Spanish and modified English every day. While I’m not a proficient Spanish speaker, I pride myself on Spanglish and making connections by using comprehensible strategies. As a teacher who supports our English newcomers and many language learners every day, I resent that the article characterizes our students as fending for themselves with little support or acknowledgement.

“What are we doing wrong?” exemplifies the deficit mentality that mischaracterizes language learners every day. How about respecting the efforts that are in place and ask, “What can we do more of?” 

I invite the reporter into one of our many leveled, supported classes for English language learners at Summit Middle School to get a wider view of our programming. 

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