The U.S. Department of Education recently released an “English Learner Tool Kit” designed to support public schools in meeting their legal obligations to students learning the English language. The purpose: to ensure they have equal access to quality education.
This is no small feat.
I was once a teacher in “bilingual education” programs in a state at the supposed forefront of educating English-language learners. My experience left me feeling that native Spanish-speaking students were too often herded into “self-contained” classrooms with a Spanish-speaking teacher and left on the margins.
Because such classrooms are opened only if there is a set number of students of the same language in need, it is usually the Spanish-speaking students — and not the far smaller populations of Polish, Asian and other new immigrants — who get shuffled off into these native-language programs that are rarely integrated with the general school population.