FCAT online and multi-language

Jeb Bush announced that parents can logon to see FCAT scores, get help, etc in a secure environment. Notices will be sent to everyones home. Oh- and it will all be available in English, Spanish, and Hatian Creole. This is to match the printed FCAT reports which are also delivered inEnglish, Spanish, and Hatian Creole.

POPULATION FACTS: (reference http://www.broward.org/planningservices/upi00136.htm)
People from more than 160 countries in Miami speak more than 140 languages.
Miami-Dade County is home to some 98,000 Haitians (2000 census). INS and Census figures vary widely. INS put the number of Haitian Americans in Broward County at slightly more than 156,000 vs 65,000 from the 2000 Census. Broward County’s Hispanic population was over 271,000 in 2000, per the census and nearly 50% lower per INS. So I learned something new about our population today.

Broward School district has a diverse multicultural/multi-ethnic population with students from 168 countries, speaking 55 languages. Of the more than 274,000 students in 2004-2005, there were 38,065 students identified as Limited English Proficient, which I’m assuming has some correlation to a need for parents to receive school communications in their native language.

How many residents are needed to determine when we will provide government services in that language?

At Norcrest Elementary we received parent communications primarily in English, but also in Creole, Spanish and maybe even Portuguese. So a 2 sided message would become 6-8 pages.

let’s call it:

6 extra sides printed X 800 students X 6 news bulletins per year=

28,800 extra printed pages per year
@$.03 ( yes, that’s cheap when you consider labor, equip, supplies etc)

Total $864 at one school additional printing costs
If this is county wide then 274,000 students X6X6X.03= $295,920

How many are benefitting vs how many receive? How many languages should the government deliver services for? When does it stop? Is there a better delivery method so everyone does not have to receive bulletins in 3 languages?
Let’s say we keep the online multi-language concept. Can we start adding ONE PARAGRAPH to student newsletters telling parents to login to the county or school web site for their language version? I should note, most of the multi-language messages were State of Florida officlial proclamations such as “it’s Joe Smith celebration week”. What a waste.

What’s the cost of creating the web sites in each language? Are we going to track the usage OF PARENTS who login to determine if there is a valid need for it, i.e. if we build it will they come? I’m sure if the response is deplorably low they’ll say it wasn’t promoted enough. How many foreign language readers are needed to justify the cost? In my experience, no one will have any follow up on these questions- implement, but no review is the norm.
It seems like there are a lot of Brazilians in South Florida. Why don’t we provide paperwork for them in Portuguese? Most of the Brazilians I’ve met attended university in their home country and they are eager to learn English. Are we propping up other groups by creating a society in which they never have to learn English? I digress. There are valid reasons for providing multi-language communications in the education system.  We should examine the cost/benefit and user need for various delivery methods.

What do you think about delivering school communications in multiple languages- the same pack of documents to everyone?

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