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LULAC Speaks Out on ELL Policies

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The League of United Latin American Citizens, which calls itself the nation's oldest and largest Hispanic organization, is not buying into the U.S. Department of Education's rationale for merging the administration of Title III and Title l of the No Child Left Behind Act. Federal officials have said that moving the administration of Title III—the main conduit of funding under NCLB for English-language learners—to the Education Department's office of elementary and secondary education will lead to better coordination between the two programs. The reorganization will be effective in the fall.

On July 11, LULAC passed a resolution saying that the office of English-language acquisition has been effective in helping states and school districts to meet the needs of ELLs. The reorganization will result in "implementation problems at the federal, state, and local levels," the resolution says. It contends that other methods could produce better coordination between the two programs.

On the same day, LULAC approved a resolution written by the Arizona affiliate of LULAC concerning Arizona's ELLs. As of this fall, the Arizona department of education has promised to enforce legislation that calls for school districts to teach English skills to ELLs for four hours each day in classrooms separate from non-ELLs. LULAC asks the state legislature to postpone implementation of the proposed program until a federal court approves funding to carry it out. LULAC also asks the state to accept alternative plans proposed by school districts to teach ELLs. The resolution contends that no evidence exists that shows "four hours is the optimum instruction time for ELL students."

Find my earlier posts on the Arizona matter here, here, and here.

4 Comments

The Office of Education has not made clear what the problem is that this reorganization will solve. I am not satisfied that this is an appropriate solution for getting folks to work with each other IF that is the real issue.

I support LULAC's concern.

For too long LEP students were denied services if the services were paid for by Title I funds. Title one is by far the biggest piece of the pie. Bringing Title III and Title I closer together should help ensure access to services for ELLs.

LEP students should not have been denied services if paid for under Title I funding. Merging Title III and Title I will not reverse a failure to ensure appropriate use of funding and does not fix the problem Mr. Stansfield posts. What is the plan to ensure that Title III will not be diminished in this merge, swallowed up by a bigger fish?

There are five K-12 million students in our nation who are ELL(English Language learners). They already speak and in many cases read and write another language. How will we ensure that they learn English, master other subject areas, AND retain and expand their skills in their home languages? These skills are needed in business, for national security, for international trade and commerce, and even in the military.

Seven years after 9/11 with two wars being fought in the Middle East and Osama Bin Laden yet to be captured, the Pentagon still does not have enough Arabic speakers to translate the very materials we are capturing. It is almost like the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. The Administration is sending one supplemental spending bill after another and spending our taxes in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and Congress has given the President the power to continue to monitor and assess the foreign “chatter” which our Homeland Defense has colored as “high” right now, but we cannot understand that very chatter because it is in another language.

In contrast, as domestic spending gets cut at the local and state level as a direct result of our after-the-fact defense spending, what do our Universities do? They cut these very needed heritage language programs; they cut Arabic and Farsi and Chinese and maintain Spanish and French and German.

At the higher education level, local community colleges and universities are following the same exclusionary thought process where not just foreign students, but even immigrant students, are treated in many instances as undocumented and not allowed to establish residency after one year. In the process, many students who are born here are also being sent to EAP classes on the basis of their surname and skin color without even the benefit of prior testing. There are repeated instances of students showing up to register only to be sent from one part of the campus to another and simply pushed out after repeated efforts towards matriculation.

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Education plans to move the Title III State Formula Program from the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESA). OELA, as handcuffed as it has been under the current Administration, is the only federal office that is specifically charged with addressing the educational needs of English language learners.

All we have to do is to look at similar “reorganization” efforts in Department of Justice, EPA and Homeland Defense, where FEMA has become completely inoperative to realize that this first step towards total privatization is a recipe for disaster. To insure fidelity to Congressional mandates and coherence in program administration, all Title III programs and activities should be administered and coordinated by OELA. the next president cannot permit redeployment of OELA staff as that would inevitably divert time, effort, and attention to other tasks within OESA.

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