FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A Fresno Unified school teaching kids to be bilingual is now accepting neighborhood students for an English speaking program. The move has some parents in the district upset about what it will do to their children's dual immersion program.
Parents protest outside of Sunset Elementary School in southwest Fresno upset the 100-percent dual immersion school is now changing to offer English immersion classes, also known as the traditional curriculum. Francisco Ruiz Junior's five-year-old son Ethan is enrolled at Sunset. "The concern is they're going to be mixed in with English. On the yard, sometimes, the kids talk Spanish-- they're going to be mixed in talking English, speaking more English, they're going to fall behind on the Spanish as they go into class."
Dual immersion curriculum is a seven-year commitment with children speaking 90-percent Spanish, 10-percent English in kindergarten, eventually speaking 50-50 in sixth grade. Ruiz is worried more English-only classes offered at Sunset could mean less dual immersion in the long run. "What we're scared is it's going to push our Spanish dual immersion program away."
"I would reassure them that the dual immersion program at Sunset is in no jeopardy," said Maria Maldonado, Asst. Superintendent of ESL.
Fresno Unified insists dual immersion will remain at Sunset. In fact, the district is looking to expand it to other schools.
The need for Sunset to offer traditional English classes is to accommodate neighborhood children who are being forced to go to other schools that are overcrowded. Sunset has about 300 students enrolled with several of its classrooms sitting empty. "So as a unified district we want to maximize the use of our facilities," explained Maldonado.
The district said Ewing and Leavenworth Elementary Schools have both English and dual immersion programs with students there adjusting just fine. Parents at Sunset, though, feel the changes to their school will impact students' Spanish learning.
Sunset Elementary School will begin accepting students for it's regular, English-speaking, curriculum starting this August.