Filipinos in SF win funding for Tagalog language programs

AFTER weeks of rallying to officials, the Filipino community in San Francisco finally won its battle in asking to provide funding and support for Filipino language classes in city schools.   With funds now available, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is now ready to hire its first full-time Filipino-speaking teacher starting next school year.

Community leaders felt that the Board of Education was discriminating Filipinos when it originally excluded funding Filipinos for multilingual education for kindergarten to 8th grade students.  The education budget for 2015-2016 is US1.9 million, which provided no educational resources to Tagalog language programs, affecting Filipinos who make up five percent of the student population.

“This is a true case of people power.  So yes, from zero to getting a full-time teacher which is amounting to about US$100,00.  It was a struggle and it was like pulling teeth.  We were pulling teeth and we succeeded,” said Vivian Zalvidea Araullo, Executive Director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, in an interview with Balitang America.

Aside from the fund, district officials have also pledged to expand Filipino-language enrichment programs to the third-grade level at Bessie Carmichael and Longfellow elementary schools, which are both currently offering enrichment programs in kindergarten through second grades.

Magdalena De Guzman, a Tagalog teacher at Bessie Carmichael, said, “All they have to do is open a class at the Filipino Education Center. They’re saying they don’t have a space but they need to know—the new administrators, new teachers, new people—they need to know that we expanded that school so that the language can expand from kindergarten to 8th grade.”

Araullo is also grateful for Fil-Am Commissioner Hydra Mendoza and Commissioner Emily Murase, whom she said were the biggest advocates for the community.  “It was obvious right from the beginning that zero dollars for the Filipino community is a total inequity and unacceptable and they championed our cause,” she said.

Although the allocated fund is a start, Mendoza had expressed from the start that it was not sufficient and that the program needs more funding to properly serve students.  Because of this, parents and community advocates will continue to pressure the SFUSD to further push their goal of including a Filipino language class in the middle and high school level.

(With reports from Balitang America/ABS-CBN News)

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