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Austin Joins Districts Using Stimulus Money for ELLs

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The school board for the Austin, Texas, school district has approved a plan that includes using some of the district's federal stimulus funds to improve instruction for English-language learners, according to the education blog of the Austin American-Statesman. The board has created 18 jobs, including positions for staff of programs for ELLs. One of the proposals for spending stimulus money is to use $8.4 million for new programs for ELLs, middle school students, students at risk of dropping out, and specialized academies at low-income schools.
Schools and the Stimulus

I've already noted on this blog a couple of other school districts, Oregon's Salem-Keizer district and Pennsylvania's York City district, that plan to spend money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on ELLs. In addition, I've written an article for Education Week about how the Boston, New York City, St. Paul, Minn., and Seattle school districts have plans to use federal stimulus funds to support or improve schooling for ELLs. The Seattle school district intends to use the funds to help pay for an overhaul of programs for ELLs.

The ELL Working Group, a group of researchers in the field, have made recommendations on how to use the funds effectively for ELLs.

1 Comment

It's encouraging to hear that Austin ISD and other districts nationally will direct stimulus funds to help ELLs. Hopefully more institutionally-based funding will follow when stimulus funds run out. Educators need all the resources they can get to help them work more comfortably with ELLs--no matter what subject or level they teach. I've found approaching the discussion as one based on developing "cultural" compentence, rather than solely linguistic compentence, a comforting distinction for teachers--who are sometimes afraid to "fail" if they can't learn enough Spanish in a short period of time. It does take a long time to learn a language. But whether or not one masters Spanish or not, there are still ways for educators to demonstrate cultural understanding (i.e. demonstrating respect) to increase parent-teacher communication and help students succeed. Teacher training that focuses on both the cultural and linguistic tracks simultaneously increases its effectiveness. After all, language is an integral part of culture, not separate from it.

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