Resolution of the Board of Education adopting the report and recommendations of the African American task force; A policy statement and directing the superintendent of schools to devise a program to improve the English language acquisition and application

Whereas, numerous validated scholarly studies demonstrate that
African-Americ-an students as a part of their culture and history [as]
an African people possess and utilize a language described in various
scholarly approaches as “Ebonics” (literally “Blank sounds”) or
“Pan-African Communication Behaviors” or “African Language Systems”; and

Whereas, these studies have also demonstrated that African Language
Systems are genetically based and not a dialect of English; and

Whereas, these studies demonstrate that such West and Niger-Congo
African languages have been officially recognized and addressed in the
mainstream public educational community as worthy of study,
understanding or application of its principles, laws and structures for
the benefit of African-American students both in terms of positive
appreciation of the language and these students’ acquisition and
mastery of English language skills; and

Whereas, such recognition by scholars has given rise over the past
fifteen years to legislation passed by the State of California
recognizing the unique language stature of descendants of slavers, with
such legislation being prejudicially and unconstitutionally vetoed
repeatedly by various California state governors; and

Whereas, judicial cases in states other than California have
recognized the unique language stature of African-American pupils, and
such recognition by courts has resulted in court-mandated educational
programs which have substantially benefitted African American children
in the interest of vindicating their equal protection of the law rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and

Whereas, the Federal Bilingual Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1402 et
seq.) mandates that local educational agencies “build their capacities
to establish, implement and sustain programs of instruction for
children and youth of limited English proficiency”; and

Whereas, the interests of the Oakland Unified School District in
providing equal opportunities for all of its students dictate limited
English proficient educational programs recognizing the English
language acquisition and improvement skills of African-American
students are as fundamental as is application of bilingual education
principles for others whose primary languages are other than English;
and

Whereas, the standardized tests and grade scores of
African-American students in reading and language arts skills measuring
their application of English skills are substantially below state and
national norms and that such deficiencies will be remedied by
application of a program featuring African Language Systems principles
in instructing African-American children both in their primary language
and in English; and

Whereas, standardized tests and grade scores will be remedied by
application of a program with teachers and aides who are certified in
the methodology of featuring African Language Systems principles in
instructing African-American children both in their primary language
and in English. The certified teachers of these students will be
provided incentives including, but not limited to, salary differentials,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education
officially recognizes the existence, and the cultural and historic
bases of West and Niger-Congo African Language Systems, and each
language as the predominantly primary language of African-American
students; and

Be it further resolved that the Board of Education hereby adopts
the report, recommendations and attached Policy Statement of the
District’s African-American Task Force on language stature of
African-American speech; and

Be it further resolved that the Superintendent in conjunction with
her staff shall immediately devise and implement the best possible
academic program for imparting instruction to African-American students
in their primary language for the combined purposes of maintaining the
legitimacy and richness of such language whether it is known as
“Ebonics,” “African Language Systems,” “Pan-African Communication
Behaviors” or other description, and to facilitate their acquisition
and mastery of English language skills; and

Be it further resolved that the Board of Education hereby commits
to earmark District general and special funding as is reasonably
necessary and appropriate to enable the Superintendent and her staff to
accomplish the foregoing; and

Be it further resolved that the Superintendent and her staff shall
utilize the input of the entire Oakland educational community as well
as state and federal scholarly and educational input in devising such a
program; and

Be it further resolved that periodic reports on the progress of the
creation and implementation of such an educational program shall be
made to the Board of Education at least once per month commencing at
the Board meeting of December 18, 1996.

POLICY STATEMENT

There is persuasive empirical evidence that, predicated on analysis
of the phonology, morphology and syntax that currently exists as
systematic, rule governed and predictable patterns exist in the grammar
of African-American speech. The validated and persuasive linguistic
evidence is that African-Americans (1) have retained a West and
Niger-Congo African linguistic structure in the substratum of their
speech and (2) by this criteria are not native speakers of a Black
dialect or any other dialect of English.

“Moreover, there is persuasive empirical evidence that, owing to
their history as United States slave descendants of West and
Niger-Congo African origin, to the extent that African-Americans have
been born into, reared in, and continue to live in linguistic
environments that are different from the Euro-American English speaking
population, African-American people and their children, are from home
environments in which a language other than English language is
dominant within the meaning of “environment where a Language other than
English is dominant” as defined in Public Law 103-382 (20 U.S.C. 7402,
et seq.).

The policy of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is that
all pupils are equal and are to be treated equally. Hence, all pupils
who have difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding the
English language and whose difficulties may deny to them the
opportunity to learn successfully in classrooms where the language of
instruction is English or to participate fully in our society are to be
treated equally regardless of their race or national origin.

As in the case of Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American
and all other pupils in this District who come from backgrounds or
environments where a language other than English is dominant,
African-American pupils shall not, because of their race, be subtly
dehumanized, stigmatized, discriminated against or denied.

Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American and all other
language different children are provided general funds for bilingual
education, English as a Second Language (ESL) and State and Federal
(Title VIII) Bilingual Education programs to address their limited and
non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) needs. African-American pupils are
equally entitled to be tested and, where appropriate, shall be provided
general funds and State and Federal (Title VIII) bilingual education
and ESL programs to specifically address their LEP/NEP needs.

All classroom teachers and aides who are bilingual in Nigritian
Ebonics (African-American Language) and English shall be given the same
salary differentials and merit increases that are provided to the
teachers of the non-African-American LEP pupils in the OUSD.

With a view toward assuring that parents of African-American pupils
are given the knowledge base necessary to make informed decisions, it
shall be the policy of the Oakland Unified School District that all
parents of LEP (Limited English Proficient) pupils are to be provided
the opportunity to partake of any and all language and culture specific
teacher education and training classes designed to address their
child’s LEP needs.

On all home language surveys given to parents of pupils requesting
home language identification or designations, a description of the
District’s programmatic consequences of their choices will be contained.

Nothing in this Policy shall preclude or prevent African-American
parents who view their child’s limited English proficiency as being
non-standard English, as opposed to being West and Niger-Congo African
Language based, from exercising their right to choose and to have their
child’s speech disorders and English Language deficits addressed by
special education and/ or other District programs.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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