At Torrey Pines High School, I am a teacher’s assistant for fourth period College Prep World History. What I cherish most about my time spent in the class is getting to assist a group of English second language students that are clustered in it.
TPHS boasts one of the most diverse student bodies in the county, specifically in our English Language Development program, or ELD. Simply, ELD is a transitional program designed for students new to the United States to acclimate to the English language before being thrown into the chaotic American high school experience.
Unfortunately, the ELD at TPHS has experienced a few hits this year — it has had to condense its previous four levels of classes into one and remove all of its sheltered subject classes so as to comply with state guidelines. Earlier this year, the California Department of Education ruled that students who had been in the U.S. for more than two years and scored higher than a 1, the lowest possible score, on the English Language Proficiency Assessment in California, would not qualify for ELD 1, and would have to take regular College Preparatory classes along with native English speakers.
These new regulations were somewhat of a shock. I think those who created these rules largely ignored how jarring of a transition it must be for foreign students who are mostly new to the intricacies of the English language to be pushed into a normal class without any guaranteed support. High school is hard enough without the discomfort and exhaustion of having to translate every single thing around you. Not to mention, the added burden of dealing with debilitating homesickness and loneliness that goes along with living in a new country. Additionally, TPHS has a decent amount of students who are refugees from countries like Ukraine and Afghanistan.
TPHS is incredibly lucky to have a tight-knit community of passionate and empathetic teachers, who make it their mission to make the lives of ELD students as easy as possible whether through one-on-one tutoring or adjusted curriculum. But not every school in the county is as lucky. Even at TPHS, not every teacher has an assistant and placing special attention on one student in a class of 40 just is not feasible. To compensate for its hindering restrictions, I hope the state can provide public schools with greater funding and resources to help its ELD students. To help them, is to support diversity, culture, and inclusion for all.