Students who speak mostly Navajo will receive a boost in English-language instruction. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the changes bring the Ganado Unified School District into compliance with federal law.
In 1974, the federal government stipulated that students who enroll in school speaking a language other than English have equal opportunities to participate in educational programs.
As part of the agreement, the school district will be responsible for properly identifying English-learning students upon enrollment and providing communication to parents in Navajo. The district will also improve instruction, provide necessary materials and staff training, and monitoring of students who opt out or leave the English-learning program.
But, according to William Allsbrooks, superintendent in the Ganado Unified School District, the main issue is correctly identifying students who need language help. The district determined that less than 10 percent of students – mostly young children – enroll in school while primarily speaking Navajo.
“What it does is provides services for students whose primary home language is not English. It provides additional services to help those students learn the English language so they can function both in our classrooms as well as in society in general.”
Allsbrooks says despite the recent settlement with the Justice Department, more accurate assessments have shown that the school district has lived up to state and federal regulations during the last few years.