California education chief visits Oxnard school to highlight its dual-language program

·2 min read

Juan Soria Elementary School in Oxnard welcomed California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Tuesday to meet students enrolled in the school's dual-language immersion program.

The visit was held to promote Senate Bill 952, which would expand funding for dual-language immersion programs at California public schools like the one in place at Soria Elementary. According to the California Department of Education, 747 public schools in the state offer dual-language immersion programs and nearly 1,500 offer some type of bilingual programming.

Thurmond was joined by state Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, author of SB 952 and whose senate district includes Soria Elementary.

Limón praised the dual-language immersion program at the Oxnard site and said she wrote the bill after Thurmond approached her about replicating its success elsewhere.

"Our bill is about expanding that opportunity to school districts across the state," Limón said.

Thurmond and Limón visited a class of sixth-grade students who had been in dual Spanish and English language immersion since kindergarten. The students asked questions in Spanish and English and spoke about the role of dual-language immersion in their lives.

"These students talked about, in a really articulate way, why a program like this is so important," Thurmond said.

Thurmond also noted the importance of funding pubic education programs in high demand like bilingual immersion, especially in light of declining enrollment figures released by the Department of Education on Monday.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (at podium) and state Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, meet with a class of sixth-grade students at  Juan Soria Elementary School in Oxnard on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. The two visited the school to help promote Senate Bill 952, which would expand funding for dual-language immersion programs.
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (at podium) and state Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, meet with a class of sixth-grade students at Juan Soria Elementary School in Oxnard on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. The two visited the school to help promote Senate Bill 952, which would expand funding for dual-language immersion programs.

Several advocates also spoke during the visit, including Marlene Batista, who works as the director of certified human resources for the Oxnard School District and sits on the board of the California Association for Bilingual Education, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Batista spoke, first in English and then in Spanish, about about the Global California 2030 initiative, which aims to have more than half of all K-12 students in the state to be proficient in more than one language.

"The demographics of California require representation of the diversity of the world community, which is why our children bring extensive assets of rich linguistic and cultural identity into our classrooms," Batista said.

As for the current progress of the bill, SB 952 passed the California Senate Education Committee on March 30 in a unanimous vote. It heads next to the California Senate Appropriations Committee where a hearing is currently set for April 18.

Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing jeremy.childs@vcstar.com. You can also find him on Twitter @Jeremy_Childs.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Superintendent Tony Thurmond visits Oxnard school to promote SB 952