When Debbie Wei came on as the founding principal of the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures (FACTS) Charter School in Chinatown, she knew what her first big capital expense would be.
Simultaneous translation equipment.
“This was a statement on our part,” said Wei. “Not to have basic communication with parents is criminal.” So now, parent meetings often look like UN sessions.
Numbers of English language learners (ELLs) and immigrant students have been declining since 2006, say District officials, and with the decline come cuts in funding for ELL programs.
But advocates for language minority students say that the District’s citywide totals don’t capture the complex movements within Philadelphia’s diverse ELL population, which still numbers over 12,000 and includes speakers of more than 50 languages.