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Plan to Aid Immigrant Students Unveiled

June 20, 1986|PAMELA MORELAND | Times Staff Writer

A proposal for a network of centers where immigrant students entering the Los Angeles Unified School District could be introduced to the ways of American public education was unveiled Thursday before a school board committee hearing.

The so-called "Newcomer Assistance Centers" would be staffed by teachers and aides who speak foreign languages. Their jobs would range from giving diagnostic tests to determine the grade in which students should be placed, to giving general advice on what to expect at an American school.

The plan, by Westside board member Alan Gershman, was forwarded by the Board of Education's Education Development Committee for a full board vote June 30.

Separate Center Possible

Under the plan, some schools would set aside a classroom for the center. In neighborhoods where there is a continuous stream of new arrivals, a separate district-financed center might be established. Youngsters would study with the staff until instructors believe they are ready to enter regular classes. Board member Jackie Goldberg said a student might be in the center from two weeks to two months.

Gershman said he hopes that some elements of the plan can be implemented by fall. He said he was particularly concerned about newly arrived immigrants bused from overcrowded schools on the Eastside and the Central City to predominantly white schools on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. Many of these schools do not have bilingual teachers.

'The Saddest Thing'

"The saddest thing in the world is to see some youngster sitting in a classroom with a glazed look on his face because he just doesn't understand what's going on," Gershman said.

The district does not keep track of the number of immigrants enrolled, largely in order to comply with federal regulations designed to prevent discrimination against illegal aliens. However, at some elementary schools, principals report that the foreign-born make up a third to a half of their enrollment.

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