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Obama Administration Releases Federal Guidelines Highlighting Civil Rights of ELL Students

Obama Administration Releases Federal Guidelines Highlighting Civil Rights of ELL Students

The Obama Administration has released guidelines highlighting the civil rights of students in the U.S. who are learning English as a second language. 

“It is crucial to the future of our nation that these students, and all students, have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential,” administration officials wrote in an open letter to the nation’s educators, according to an article on WashingtonPost.com. The letter, the article said, "was signed by Catherine E. Lhamon, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, acting assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Justice Department."

According to the article, "there are about 5 million English-language learners in the United States, or about 9 percent of all public school students, and the number is increasing."

"So, too, are the number of civil rights complaints concerning English learners, according to the Education Department, while national test scores and other data show a persistent achievement gap between native English speakers and those learning English as a second language," the article said.

The letter, the article said, "comes amid public debate about schools’ responsibility to serve the thousands of unaccompanied and undocumented minors who have streamed across the border in the past year."

"It also follows President Obama’s executive action to allow nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States. Some English learners are immigrants; many others are the children of immigrants," WashingtonPost.com said.

According to the article, one of the requirements is to "provide English learners with language programs led by qualified teachers, integrate English learners as much as possible into mainstream classrooms and communicate with parents in a language they understand."

"“There are a lot more English learners in American schools, and American schools don’t know what to do about it, so they are stumbling around,” said Conor P. Williams, a senior researcher at New America Foundation in the article.

Read the full story and comment below. Read the "Dear Colleague" letter here

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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