Basic skill classes are being cut

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By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief, Ashley Anderson / News Editor

Learning something new (Luis Solis / Staff Photographer)

By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief, Ashley Anderson / News Editor

Since Gregory Gray, chancellor of Riverside Community College District, announced the District will be cutting $14.31 million from its budget for the 2012-13 academic year, Riverside City College, along with Norco College and Moreno Valley College, has been doing its part to cut from its budget.

The District took the task to cut $9.48 million of the $14.31 million, as the three colleges had to make up the difference and Cynthia Azari’s, president of RCC, task was to cut $2.68 million from RCC’s budget.

“We are cutting back everywhere,” she said. “We are cutting 633 full-time equivalent students next year; that is about 1,200 to 1,500 (head) count.”

Part of the $2.68 million in cuts at RCC are the classes from English as a Second Language.

The ESL classes projected to be eliminated are 51, 52, 53, 71, 72, 91, and 92 while 54,73, and 93 are being reduced.

The ESL classes being cut are classes that focus on oral communication, writing and grammar, and reading and vocabulary. The ESL classes being cut are also the ones four levels below the transfer classes such as English 1A.

According to a power point which Carla Reible, an associate professor of ESL, presented to the English department, Azari and Wolde-Ab Isaac, vice president of Academic Affairs, International students at RCC generate $1.9 million to the general fund.

This semester, 70 international visa students enrolled in ESL 53, 54 and 55, according to the power point by Reible. And according to the power point, those who meet the requirements and are placed in 53 will not be admitted.

Reible said the cuts to the ESL classes will have an impact on the local area of population.

She said most of the ESL students at RCC come from adult schools or high schools.

“We have a large non-native speaking population in our high schools,” Reible said. “Even though they get ESL and they get the language, they haven’t acquired the academic fluency.”

She said the ESL students who enroll at RCC can speak English ,but they cannot write or read at the level needed to complete English 50.

Reible said the faculty, including Azari, has suggested the ESL students can go to adult schools.

“If we can get them served there (adult school), that’s more we can offer here,” Azari said.

According to Reible, adult school isn’t an option for ESL students.

“What I’ve heard faculty say is, ‘well they can just go to an adult school,’ but the adult school has been cut; their classes have been reduced,” she said.

Reible said adult school is completely different from RCC ESL classes because adult school has classes that are writing classes with no textbooks and are open entry, open exit.

“(It) means that the students come and then they can leave whenever they want to, so you take that kind of learning environment versus what your expected to do in English 50, and it’s just a different sort of thing.”

Reible said students enrolling at RCC after the ESL class cuts are made will have to go somewhere else if they test into a lower basic skill class.

“What the impact is going to be is there’s going to be a lot of people coming in, and either they are going to test into English 60 and they are just not going to have an ESL, or the only thing that we will have left once the sequential cuts are done, will be a few classes of 54 and some 55, and so only if they’re at that essay writing advanced area will they have some place to go,” she said.

Reible said students can attend an adult school, but the classes at adult school won’t be enough.

“My concern is that it’s not going to adequately prepare them for the rigors of what we’re expecting in our English classes,” she said.

The power point said a greater percentage of Latino students place into basic skill classes and non-native speakers must acquire academic English language in the same time that native speakers are allowed to remediate.

“Eliminating the entry point for these students will be effectively denying access,” according to the power point by Reible.

Gloria Wells, an ESL student who has completed the program and has been a student leader for other ESL students, said the cuts to the ESL classes have a feeling of discrimination.

“The feeling among the ESL students is a feeling of discrimination because we do not have a voice here at RCC,” she said. “Among the teachers, among the ESL students, we feel that this action is very offensive to us.”

Wells said the ESL students at RCC are studying to do more than learn English.

“We are here because w
e have an academic goal; we are not here to only learn the language,” she said. “The majority of them want to transfer and go to a university and taking ESL classes are giving the basic skills of reading, speaking, and writing to succeed here at college, and then transfer to the universities.”

Wells said the solution the college is suggesting ESL students to go to adult school is ridiculous.

“That made me laugh because I don’t know if you realize that those schools are filled and they don’t have the capacity to get all these students from the college,” she said.

Wells said the ESL students at RCC came from the adult schools because the adult school classes are not enough.

“They came from those schools, because those schools are not well organized or prepared,” she said.

Juan Robles, an ESL student who is almost completed with the program, said taking ESL classes at adult school is not enough.

“Before I attended college and the ESL program, I used to go to Riverside Adult School on Magnolia Ave and it is not enough,” he said. “The information and the education there is very low.”

Robles said the ESL classes at RCC helped him a lot.

“When I came here and took ESL 51, the grammar and structure of the class was much better and more challenging to push you to study more, to focus more and to spend more time in grammar writing or on your oral skills and reading papers,” he said. “(The instructors at RCC) challenge you because you receive a grade but the adult school’s teachers don’t care about your education or English.”

Robles said the college level ESL classes are more effective.

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