Save Our ELST

Update on July 16: At this time, we're grateful for all the letters families have sent. As soon as we have any news, we will let you know.

What's the issue?

Next year's school budget has come down from the Board of Education. Principals at schools across San Diego Unified were asked to take one resource teacher and reassign him or her as a classroom teacher.  At Birney, Mrs. Arteberry, slated to be our English Language Support Teacher (ELST) and Reading Specialist next year, will become a classroom teacher again. 


How many students are affected?

Birney's English Learner population is about 130 students, representing 17 different languages. That's 1 out of every 5 students at Birney.

Currently Mrs. Arteberry tracks each student's language development and suggests appropriate specific learning plans; every year, our students are assessed multiple times by her to make sure they are on track. This is not something that even the most excellent classroom teacher with 25 or more other students will be able to do easily or as well.

At Birney next year, 1 in 4 students should spend time outside the classroom with Mrs. Arteberry, either for English Learner or Reading Specialist work. Next year Ms. Arteberry, will return to a classroom and the English Learners at Birney will have to rely on their classroom teachers for this specialized support. 

Is the current program working?

Yes! Birney's English learner program makes a dramatic difference for our classrooms and individual students. Mrs. Arteberry’s dedication and expertise has helped 30 students become reclassified just this year!

My student is not an English Learner. Why should I care?

  • Our English Learners are our most vulnerable students. Due to the language barrier, in many cases their own families may be unaware or unable to advocate for them.
  • English Learners consistently show the lowest high school graduation rates, both in San Diego and nationwide.
  • Study after study shows the largest indicator of a child's success of completing a college degree is English reading fluency by the end of 3rd grade, and this can be a problem for native English speakers. Removing a dedicated ELST during the critical primary years has lasting implications for English Learners.