District CBET program continues

By Nancy Gutierrez

The increasing popularity of the Community Based English Tutoring Program (CBET) helped secure another year for the courses utilized by Spanish speaking parents.

At the April 26 Lindsay Unified School District meeting the board approved a re-application for CBET program funds for fiscal year 2004-2005. If the district receives the funding it will be responsible for providing free or subsidized adult English-language instruction for parent or community members who have pledged to provide personal English language tutoring to K-12 English learners.

Assistant Superintendent Frances Holdbrooks said the program provides parents with English language strategies that the parents can in turn use to help their children with the English language. The program has been offered at Lindsay for two years prior. Recently the district bought curriculum for the program.

"Teachers teach parents differently than they would children," Director of Pupil Services Suzzane Terrill said. "We tried using the educational material used for the kids."

The parent curriculum teaches a combination of skills including functional language that will help parents in their community as well as reading skills so parents can help their children.

"The purpose is to teach community members and parents English to support their children and learn literacy skills," Holdbrooks said.

The free classes are available to anyone in the community even those without children. Maggie Bletcher administers the CBET program, she said all that is asked of those who participate is that they pledge to tutor a child in the community.

"It can be their own child or someone else's," Bletcher said. "We teach them basic ideas so they can help with homework."

Bletcher said some younger adults have utilized the program as a starting point for extended education. Many CBET participants have enrolled in adult education classes after taking the CBET classes.

Child care is provided during class time. The district hires high school students to care for the children while their parents are learning English. These high schoolers participate in a training program prior to working with the children. They learn CPR as well as specific activities to do with students that incorporate utilizing Leapfrog educational materials.

"These kids are given educational activities. They're not just housed," Holdbrooks said.

Currently there are close to 35 community members in the program. Classes are offered at Jefferson and Washington elementary schools as well as Steve Garvey Junior High School. The Jefferson and Washington classes are from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. The Garvey classes start at 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. Holdbrooks said the program implements an open enrollment and community members can attend at any point. The classes are offered through the school year.

Holdbrooks hopes to have a morning classes available next year for parents to attend after they have dropped their students off for school.

"Our only challenge is to find space for not just the class but the child care as well," Holdbrooks said.

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