An education for all

There is a lack of state support for English learner students

The state of California has the duty to provide English learner (EL) students a specially designed program so that they can learn the language and join regular classes. The problem is that some of these students are not being offered this program, and the state Education Department knows it.

This is a serious complaint that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California has submitted to the state’s education officials. By analyzing official data, the ACLU found that more than 20,000 kids have been identified by their own schools as students who should have had the support of a customized English program for them to learn the language. These students were deprived of a necessary tool that would have given them the possibility of academic success instead of continuing on the path to becoming dropouts.

It is estimated that one quarter of students in California’s public schools—meaning, 1.4 million—are in the EL category. This is a significant number that requires special attention and more funds, so they can be reclassified and go into mainstream classes. Unfortunately, this process is not happening as fast as it should.

Therefore, Governor Brown is proposing a new formula to allocate educational funds, in order to give priority to schools with fewer resources and more students. Also, districts would have more freedom to manage their funds.

If this change is implemented, it is essential for state education officials to make sure that schools provide support to English learner students, which is not currently happening.

Therefore, the ACLU is basically recommending that a regulatory system be established and implemented within the California Department of Education. This system would provide guidance and enforce compliance with established programs for EL students, as well as remedy cases of noncompliance.

EL students deserve the opportunity to achieve success in their educational development. For that, the state must begin fulfilling its duty to ensure that everyone who needs this opportunity receives it. That way, California will have a workforce that is prepared for the future.