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Education Department Point Person for ELLs to Move On

On Jan. 30, Kathyrn M. Doherty, who has been an important point person for English-language learners in the U.S. Department of Education, is leaving her post with the federal government. She's a special assistant to the Education Department's deputy secretary, Raymond J. Simon, and a political appointee. She told me this week briefly over the telephone that she doesn't have another job lined up. She's expecting a baby in April.

Since May, when Margarita Pinkos left her job as the Education Department's director of the office of English-language acquisition, Ms. Doherty has been the department's spokesperson for federal ELL policy to the media, and often to state education officials as well. Richard L. Smith has been the acting director of the office of English-language acquisition since then, but he's been less visible.

Ms. Doherty has been in charge of some important tasks concerning ELLs. She managed the production of several publications by researchers on ELLs meant to support state education officials in making policies for such students. One of these, for example, was a guide on testing accommodations for ELLs. She handled the release of the Title III "interpretation," which is like a regulation and set guidelines for how states must implement the section of the No Child Left Behind Act that authorizes English-language-acquisition programs.

I'm curious to see who the main point person on ELL issues will be in Barack Obama's administration. It won't necessarily be whoever is the director of the office of English-language acquisition.

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