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In Rural Ohio, Funding Cuts Impact English-Language Learners

Rural schools in Ohio that serve students who are learning English are seeing support diminish for those students in the midst of funding cuts, according to a radio piece by WYSO.

The piece features the Tecumseh school district in western Ohio, where about 10 percent of students are learning English. The district has typically received federal funding for children of seasonal migrant workers, but now many migrant families are settling down and no longer qualify for the additional federal funds. According to the story, the migrant children who are now staying long-term need support in learning English but the district has fewer funds to provide resources and teachers to help those students. Most of the district's funding for these students is focused in the youngest grades to help students learn English early, but that means there is little to no support for high-school students. 

Nationwide, about 3 percent of rural students are English-language learners, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. Minority students are the fastest-growing population in rural schools, according to the Trust.

Other states have struggled to serve Hispanic students in rural schools. A report released last month by the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho found that Hispanic children face many barriers in obtaining an education. As agricultural labor needs have changed and fewer students now qualify as children of migrant workers, federal funding for these students has diminished. With a lack of federal funds for these students, as well as shrinking school budgets nationwide, the report highlighted that Hispanic students greatly lag their white peers in academic performance. "A real and relevant problem is the number of schools in rural communities in Idaho and other rural states, particularly those along the Eastern Seaboard, where the lack of adequate bilingual/bicultural staff and scarce funding make it difficult to provide individualized instruction or tutoring to English-language learners," the authors of the report wrote. 

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