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ELL Advocate Named to Aspen Commission on NCLB

Over at Politics K-12, my colleague Alyson Klein writes that the Aspen Institute's commission on the No Child Left Behind Act has been revived. The commission, whose recommendations have been influential among federal policymakers, plans to hold a series of hearings over the next four months on such issues as turning around low-performing schools and improving high schools.

The long list of new members of the commission includes Delia Pompa, who is very familiar with federal policies pertaining to English-language learners in this country. She's now the National Council of La Raza's vice president for education. In a former post, she was the executive director of the National Association for Bilingual Education at a time when that organization had a lot of clout in influencing policy on ELLs in Washington. (It seems to be now mired in internal organizational problems; it hasn't had an executive director for several years.) Pompa was also the director of the office of bilingual education and minority-languages affairs in the U.S. Department of Education when Bill Clinton was president.

National Council of La Raza has supported NCLB's current requirements for including ELLs in regular state content assessments for accountability purposes after they've been in the country for at least a year. We don't know, of course, if Pompa would advocate the same exact positions as La Raza as a member of the commission or chart her own course.

Another person on the list of new commission members who must have a nuanced understanding of the education of English-language learners is Eduardo Cancino, the superintendent of the Hidalgo Independent School District in Texas. I say that because Hidalgo is a town on the U.S.-Mexican border and more than half the Hidalgo district's students (56 percent) are ELLs. The district holds the distinction of having met adequate yearly progress every year since implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. That's not an easy feat for a district with a large population of ELLs.

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