LINGUIST List 8.53

Sun Jan 19 1997

Disc: Ebonics: Orig. Board Resolution Dec 12

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


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  1. Peter Farruggio, full text of ebonics resolution

Message 1: full text of ebonics resolution

Date: Sat, 18 Jan 1997 10:17:10 -0700
From: Peter Farruggio <pfarruclink4.berkeley.edu>
Subject: full text of ebonics resolution

Some of the original wording has been amended (school board meeting of Jan
15, 1997) and the revised text has not been publicly available yet, but I
observed the full discussion on TV and I believe the amended version still
calls Ebonics a separate language, not a dialect of English---Pete
Farruggio


 Date: Mon, 30 Dec 1996 23:24:19 -0800
 From: OREGON ASSEMBLY FOR BLACK AFFAIRS <oabaPEAK.ORG>
 To: Multiple recipients of list AFROAM-L <AFROAM-LHARVARDA.HARVARD.EDU>
 Subject: Full Text of Oakland School Board Resolution and Policy Statement
 Adopted 12-18-96

This is the complete text of the Ebonics resolution, and accompanying
police statement, adopted unanimously by the Oakland School Board on
December 18, 1996.
------------------------------------------------------

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. $597-0063
 Whereas, numerous validated scholarly studies demonstrate that
African American students as 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 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 worth 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
15 years to legislation passed by the State of California recognizing the
unique language stature of descendants of slaves, 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 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution; and

 Whereas, the Federal Bilingual Education Act (20 USC 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 art 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 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 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 1-13-382 (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 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 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 aids 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 teachers of
the non-African American LEP pupils in the OUSD.

 With a view toward assuring that parent of African-American pupils
are given the knowledge base necessary to make informed choices, 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.
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