"Isn't this fun, huh, guys?" teacher Larry Hicks asked while handing out three of the cards. "You put your name on this card . . . everything on here you transfer to this (other) card, and then you put your locker number on this one. Are we clear?"
Julia Garcia did not understand a word. The ninth-grader sitting in the back of the classroom said she recently moved from Mexico, does not speak any English and had not been in school for two years. Yet, she is scheduled to attend only two classes for non-English-speaking students. Asked if she was nervous, she said, "Si, mucho. "
She probably has been assigned to classes for English-speaking students because bilingual classes have been filled, said Harold Barnes, Millikan assistant principal.
School officials acknowledge that there is a severe shortage of bilingual teachers in the district, in which ethnic student enrollment has increased.
Critical of Financing
Other major issues confronting the schools are large class sizes, drugs, gangs and lack of funds, Barnes said. "The state doesn't finance schools the way they should," he said.
But Barnes said his school has accommodated the ninth-graders--an increase of more than 800 students--by erecting nine portable classrooms and converting several teacher lounges to small classrooms.
Many of the teachers were not happy about giving up their lounges, but Barnes praised the school board's decision to move younger students to high schools.
"I think the ninth-graders will fit better here," he said.