LINGUIST List 8.56

Sun Jan 19 1997

Disc: Ebonics: Revised Oakland resolution

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <aristarlinguistlist.org>


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  1. The LINGUIST List, Revised Oakland resolution on Ebonics

Message 1: Revised Oakland resolution on Ebonics

Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 21:54:11 -0500
From: The LINGUIST List <linguistlinguistlist.org>
Subject: Revised Oakland resolution on Ebonics

[Moderators Note: Since subscribers have been asking about the latest
version of the Oakland School Board Resolution, as amended by the 
board on January 15 1997, we have decided to post it on LINGUIST. The
amended version follows.]

AMENDED 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 SKILLS
OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENTS

 No. 9697-0063

WHEREAS, numerous validated scholarly studies demonstrate that
African-American students as a part of their culture and history as African
people possess and utilize a language described in various scholarly
approaches as "Ebonics" (literally "Black sounds") or "Pan African
Communication Behaviors" or "African Language Systems"; and

WHEREAS, these studies have also demonstrated that African Language Systems
have origins in West and Niger-Congo languages and are not merely dialects
of English; and

WHEREAS, these studies demonstrate that such West and Niger-Congo African
languages have been recognized and addressed in the educational community
as worthy of study, understanding and application of their principles, laws
and structures for the benefit of African-American students both in terms
of positive appreciation of the language and these students=ED 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 slaves, with such legislation
being 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 benefited 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 interest 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 or second language learner principles for others
whose primary languages are other than English. Primary languages are the
language patterns children bring to school; 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 shall be remedied by application of a program featuring
African Language Systems principles to move students from the language
patterns they bring to school to English proficiency; and

WHEREAS, standardized tests and grade scores will be remedied by
application of a program that teachers and instructional assistants, who
are certified in the methodology of African Language Systems principles
used to transition students from the language patterns they bring to school
to 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 these are the language patterns
that many African-American students bring to school; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Education hereby adopts the
report, recommendations and attached Policy Statement of the District=EDs
African-American Task Force on the 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 the combined purposes of facilitating the acquisition and
mastery of English language skills, while respecting and embracing the
legitimacy and richness of the language patterns whether they are known as
"Ebonics", "African Language Systems", "Pan African Communication
Behaviors", or other description; 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.

Passed by the following vote:

AYES: Hodge, Cook, Rice, Harrison, Gallo, Vice President Spencer,

President Quan
NOES: None
ABSTAINING: None
ABSENT: None
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