Call to Reimagine English Learner Education

Coalition for English Learner Equity issues a call to help address the education disparities faced by English Learners across the U.S.

Coalition for English Learner Equity issues a call to help address the education disparities faced by English Learners across the U.S.

Group of multi-ethnic five little kids children African American, Asian and Caucasian happiness together with friend to draw color pencil to full color of picture in living room or class room

The Coalition for English Learner Equity (CELE), a group of national education leaders and organizations, working together to improve educational outcomes for linguistically and culturally diverse students, has launched a new national effort to help address the education disparities faced by English Learners across the nation. The COVID 19 pandemic exposed long-standing inequities and school systems are ill-equipped to meet the needs of EL students. This initiative addresses these challenges by providing guidance to district and state leaders as well as educators to reimagine the way this critical population is served in schools. 

“We know that educators have received little guidance or resources during this pandemic to ensure continuity of learning for EL students, and these students and their families have been left in the dark,” said Harold Asturias, director of the Center for Mathematics Excellence and Equity at the University of California, Berkeley and co-chair of CELE. “With long-term implications of COVID 19 likely to last a generation, school systems must respond immediately to the needs of our linguistically and culturally diverse students.”

As part of this effort, the Coalition has launched a new website which includes a Statement of Agreement and Call to Action for district and state leaders, as well as educators across the nation. National organizations, including Language Magazine, and education leaders have endorsed the Statement of Agreement and signed onto the call to action, which asks education leaders to commit to the following actions: 

  • Take a stand against racist policies and practices, examine unconscious biases, and acknowledge the smog of racism we are socialized to ignore. 
  • Design curriculum and instruction with EL students as priority users in mind and ensure their inclusion in a broad range of academic and career opportunities.
  • Reimagine partnerships with families and caregivers of linguistically and culturally diverse students based on trust, respect, and valuing their experiences and histories.
  • Design content-focused, student-centered, instructionally relevant, and actionable professional learning experiences for all educators to serve linguistically and culturally diverse students and recruit leaders and educators who themselves are linguistically and culturally diverse.
  • Showcase practices and strategies to serve students and their families that demonstrate excellence and value the linguistic and cultural assets they have in the classroom and beyond.

“We need a cultural mindshift in our education system, so that district and state leaders see our linguistically and culturally diverse students as assets and prioritize their needs,” said Angélica Infante-Green, commissioner of Education in Rhode Island and CELE member. “Very little has been said during this election about prioritizing these students or building a new bold agenda to ensure they receive a quality education. This population has always been left behind but whatever happens in education moving forward has to lead with them for the sake of all of our nation’s students.”

CELE provides specific resources and tools for taking action, organized according to responsibilities and spheres of influence of key stakeholders within the educational system. There are close to five million EL students in the United States, and they represent the fastest growing student population in our public education system. CELE will work with other education groups and those within the coalition to continue providing resources and tools to educators who work with these students.

“We have decided to come together and provide a unified voice and vision for how our education system can do better for linguistically and culturally diverse students. Rather than work in silos, we are saying that a new collaborative and disruptive approach is needed and that is why that is why we are releasing this statement as a collective call to action now,” said Crystal Gonzales, executive director of the English Learners Success Forum and co-chair of CELE. “We invite others to join our movement and demand a reimagination of our education system; if we can do better for our most underserved, all students end up benefiting.”

The groups and individuals that have endorsed the Coalition’s vision include the National Association for Bilingual Education, Education Trust-West, Californians Together, English Learners Success Forum, Understanding Language at Stanford University, Parent Institute for Quality Education, Rhode Island Department of Education, the Lawrence Hall of Science at University of California at Berkeley, Latino Policy Forum, Abriendo Puertas, Todos – Mathematics for All, Dr. Aída Walqui; Lily Wong Fillmore; Patricia Gandara; Judit Moshkovich; Kenji Hakuta; Delia Pompa.

To learn more about the Coalition for English Learner Equity and this initiative, visit: www.elequity.org.

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