My public comment to the Portland Public Schools Board, 10/14/14, is at 19 minutes and 25 seconds of the above video. The written text follows:
Last week before you I spoke about neighborhood all immersion schools as neighborhood schools without an English-only component, where all neighborhood students are admitted to the immersion program, and where neighborhood students wanting an English-only program attend another school. Tonight, as a possible future example, I want to present enrollment and transfer lottery data from last year, 2013-14, suggesting that Woodstock Elementary could, if neighborhood students were given priority admission to the immersion program (as they should be) and lottery data like that from 2013-14 were to persist, again consider phasing out its English-only component and becoming an all Mandarin immersion neighborhood school.
These issues are complex.
(1) Let us begin with enrollment data. The October 1, 2013, kindergarten enrollment count at Woodstock was 24 in the English only component and 61 in the Mandarin immersion component.
Now, let us look at the transfer lottery data for kindergarten at the Woodstock Mandarin immersion program (and acknowledge that "applicants" includes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices, although over 80% are probably 1st choices). For the 2013-14 school year, the following were the kindergarten transfer lottery results for Woodstock:
(2) Note that 22 neighborhood ("NH") applicants were either "Wait Listed" (8) or "Denied - No Space" (14) for the Mandarin immersion kindergarten program.
(3) Note that 26 out-of-neighborhood applicants ("TR") were admitted to the immersion program (26 out of 96 were approved for 26 transfer slots). Neighborhood applicants could have filled 22 of these 26 slots.
(4) Note that if all of the 22 neighborhood applicants turned down by the immersion component had been admitted ( instead of the out-of-neighborhood students) there might have been up to 22 less students in the English-only "Neighborhood Program" component, leaving possibly only two students in the English-only kindergarten component. The data does not tell us what happened to those 22 students who were turned down for the immersion program. Some may have found another school, which would mean that there were more than just two students wanting the English-only component.
(5) Parents do move to the Woodstock neighborhood in order to get their children into the Mandarin immersion program just as parents move to the Buckman neighborhood to get into Buckman or move to the Alameda neighborhood to get into Alameda. PPS should encourage this, getting students to live in the neighborhood of the school they want to attend is good.
If PPS wants to encourage, or even force, students to attend their neighborhood school, PPS should not turn neighborhood applicants away from neighborhood immersion programs. Neighborhood applicants should get priority admission to immersion programs.
(6) So what could Woodstock do with a English-only kindergarten class of 2, or even 10. They could let English-only students transfer in, although SACET is soon to recommend ending neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers. Or they could blend the kindergarteners in with first graders. Or, if low English only enrollment persists over several years, they could phase out the English-only strand year by year. If kindergarten students (and, eventually, students above first grade moving into the neighborhood) do not want to, or cannot appropriately, be in a Mandarin immersion program, give them priority transfer rights into neighboring schools with transportation if needed (this is what Hillsboro School District does with its three all Spanish immersion schools).
(7) On the other hand, recall that PPS held a community meeting on 10/16/14 at Woodstock and considered, among other options, a proposal to "Expand the current DLI program at Woodstock by creating an all school two-way DLI program with preference given to neighborhood families." This was not a popular option at the meeting as there was substantial vocal support for continuing the English-only component.
(8) Recall also that, for the 2014-15 Woodstock Mandarin kindergarten lottery, the neighborhood slots were increased to 31 (from 26, with 5 for native Chinese speakers, 26 for native English speakers), 18 slots for transfer native Chinese speakers were added, and the slots for transfer native English speakers were reduced to 7 (from 26). No data have yet been released on this lottery, so we do not know if strong neighborhood demand for the kindergarten immersion program continued and what the level of demand for the English-only component was. We do not yet know if neighborhood applicants for the immersion program were again turned away.