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On Day 2 of Better Enforcing Civil Rights Laws ...

On the day after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a speech saying the Obama administration was going to step up enforcement of civil rights laws in schools, federal education officials announced they were pursuing action on civil rights in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Both the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press published stories yesterday saying the Education Department's office for civil rights is investigating whether English-language learners in that school system are receiving a fair education.

The AP story mentions a recent study by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute that found 29 percent of students who are identified as ELLs aren't reclassified as fluent in English by the 8th grade.

Back in 2002, I wrote in Education Week that L.A. schools had thousands of English-language learners who were teenagers and had been born in the United States but hadn't yet become fluent in the language.

Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights for the Education Department, will hold a town hall meeting out there today focused on English-language learners in the schools.

It will be really interesting to see whether the OCR requires the school district to take any specific action to improve its offerings for ELLs.

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