Guidance Requested on Use of Federal Education Funding for English Learners

The U.S. Department of Education has been asked to provide guidance on the use of CARES Act funding for English Learners (ELs) in K-12 public schools by an alliance of associations: ACTFL, CABE, Californians Together, CAL, JNCL-NCLIS, MPI, NAELPA, and TESOL International. The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) includes billions of dollars for K-12 public schools, but there remains some confusion as to how exactly the money should be spent. Based on the results of a Migration Policy Institute survey of English learner and bilingual education leaders’ key concerns about COVID-19-related school closures, specific areas are listed where it is believed funding would have “an immediate and vitally important impact on English Learners.” The areas are:

  • Support for increasing access to technology
  • Training for teachers on instructional strategies to support ELs in a distance/online learning environment
  • Information for ELs and their families, in their home languages, about preventative measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to stay healthy
  • Information for ELs and their families, in their home languages, on school closures,social support measures such as meal distribution, and detailed instructions on home-based learning
  • Specific support for migrant ELs
  • Increasing family engagement through proactive measures by teachers and school and district leadership
  • Support for SEAs and LEAs to plan for mitigation of the effects of canceled and postponed testing of ELs, to include English Proficiency for placement and other purposes and testing for State Seals of Biliteracy

The letter was sent to Frank Brogan, assistant secretary of education, and copied to Aimee Viana, principal deputy assistant secretary of education and Dr. Supreet Anand, acting director, Office of English Language Acquisition in the absence of a permanent director.