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Florida Expands 'Opt-Out' Options for ELL Parents

Some interesting news from Florida:

Last week, Florida's Board of Education voted that parents of English-language learners can opt for their child to stop receiving ELL services even if the student has not tested as proficient in English. The main concern is that this opt-out implies that the districts aren't required to provide services to ELLs. The AP quotes Lucas da Silva of the Florida Immigrant Youth Network: "It makes it seem the state isn't obliged to provide this education to students."

Representatives from the board say that most parents won't opt out—they haven't traditionally—and that those students who are placed in mainstream classrooms will be taught by teachers who are at least in the process of being trained in working with ELLs. The article says that students who exit the program will be tested for at least one year after withdrawing to make sure they're still making progress. What happens to those who aren't improving is unclear—will they be automatically re—enrolled?

In other Florida news: The Palm Beach Post writes about the status of tuition benefits for the children of illegal immigrants in Florida, where a bill similar to the Texas Dream Act was voted down in the GOP-dominated state legislature just last year. Children of undocumented immigrants cannot get in-state tuition or apply for other state funds for tuition in Florida, partly because that's viewed as unfair to out-of-state residents who are U.S. citizens.

We just outlined the Republican candidates' stances on in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, prompted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry's defense of that state's Dream Act. Perry took his stand at recent debates in Tampa and Orlando, spurring a flurry of reactions from the GOP and the press.

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