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State Organizations Form New Coalition on ELL Issues

I cast the net in my last blog post for organizations that are trying to get attention in Washington for their viewpoints on issues affecting English-language learners. Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, the executive director for Californians Together, responded with a note saying that state organizations that advocate for ELLs such as hers have joined together to form a new national organization, the Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education.

The alliance has posted its recommendations for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The document says some subgroups of ELLs, such as recent immigrants or those with interrupted schooling, should be exempted from taking regular state tests for two years. Currently, all ELLs have to take their state's math tests the first time they are administered once they set foot in U.S. schools, and they have to take their state's regular reading test after spending one year in U.S. schools.

The alliance also recommends that all secondary teachers who teach ELLs be required to have certification in teaching English as a second language.

The "executive council" for the group has some familiar names, such as Kathy Escamilla, an education professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who has consulted widely for school districts about ELLs in her region of the country. Joel Gomez, the director of the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, is also a member of the council.

Barbara Flores, a teacher-educator at California State University, San Bernadino, is listed as president of the organization and a member of the council. She's a recent past president of the executive board of the National Association for Bilingual Education.

Some of the names I recognize are people who have promoted the educational method of bilingual education, when students are taught some subjects in their native languages as they learn English.

The group will hold its first conference May 19-21 in Albuquerque, N.M.

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