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Ed. Department Names Head of English-Language Office

The Obama administration has selected Rosalinda B. Barrera, the dean of the college of education at Texas State University—San Marcos, as the assistant deputy secretary and director of the office of English-language acquisition for the U.S. Department of Education. Richard L. Smith became the acting director in that post in May 2008 and has held the position under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

Once upon a time, the director of the office of English-language acquisition held the top post for English-language learners in the department. But since a merger in 2008 of the administration of Title III, the section of the No Child Left Behind Act authorizing funds for English-language-acquisition programs, with the office that administers Title I, the section of the law authorizing money for disadvantaged students, it hasn't been clear who calls the shots in the department for ELL policy.

Under the Obama administration, Thelma Melendez, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, has been the person that the department designates the most often to speak about ELL issues in public. It will be interesting to see if this responsibility is now taken up by Barrera.

Barrera assumed her current post at Texas State University in June 2005, according to a press release from the university. That press release says that she has specialized in language and literacy instruction for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She is a co-editor of a book, Multicultural Issues in Literacy Research and Practice, published in 2003 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.

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