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Mass. Charter Proposals Lack Focus on ELLs, Group Says

Almost all of the recent proposals to open new charter schools in Massachusetts lack a strong commitment to serve English-language learners, according to Multicultural Education, Training, and Advocacy, Inc., an advocacy group for ELLs based in Somerville, Mass., in an article published this week in the Boston Globe. The group has been monitoring the implementation of a new state law that requires new charter schools in the lowest-performing school districts to make efforts to recruit and serve those students.

In the article, Roger L. Rice, the co-director of Multicultural Education, Training, and Advocacy, contends that the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education hasn't done enough to disseminate information about the law's new requirements that charter school applications show plans to serve ELLs. He says the education department should ask for applicants to submit additional information about how they will serve ELLs in their applications.

But an education department spokesman is quoted in the article as saying that department regulations don't permit education officials to ask for major revisions of the applications.

Rice has provided an analysis of how most of the 23 applications for new charter schools in Massachusetts don't adhere to the state's new requirements for recruiting and serving ELLs in a memorandum that he sent to Mitchell D. Chester, the state commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

By the way, Chester, sent a memo to school district superintendents in November asking them to put the needs of ELLs high on their list of budget priorities. That particular memo didn't address the issue of ELLs in charter schools in the state.

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