[lg policy] Is Betsy DeVos About to Scrap the Federal Office for English-Language Learners?

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri May 11 11:43:34 EDT 2018

 s Betsy DeVos About to Scrap the Federal Office for English-Language
By Corey Mitchell on May 10, 2018 4:23 PM

[image: 30-SR-ELL-Early-ELLs-Teacher-students-blog.jpg]

Education and immigration advocates are pushing back against a Trump
administration plan that would consolidate the federal office that helps
guide education for millions of English-language-learner and immigrant

Under the proposal, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos would fold her
department's office of English-language acquisition into the broader office
for elementary and secondary education, according to advocacy groups
briefed this week on the department's potential plan.

The proposal also calls for eliminating the director's position for the
English-language acquisition office, a job currently held by José Viana.

Education Department officials told advocacy groups that the latest plan to
restructure would allow the department to merge English-learner support
with services provided to other disadvantaged student groups—a decision
that ELL advocates say would actually work against the best interests of
the students. The move is part of a broader effort by DeVos and her
deputies to revamp the agency
which *Education Week* first reported about in February.

In a statement, Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill said: "The
department is in the early stages of considering how best to break down
silos, improve policy and program coordination and ensure all students have
the support, attention and resources they deserve from the department."

The office of English-language acquisition, created during the George W.
Bush administration, has had its clout diminished over the past decade.
Near the end of his presidency, authority over most of the $800 million in
federal Title III funds that go to states and districts to support
instruction for English-learners was shifted to the office for elementary
and secondary education—which could now totally absorb the English-language

There are an estimated 5 million English-learners in public K-12 schools in
the United States—and their academic proficiency and high school graduation
rates lag behind those of their native English-speaking peers.

Citing the prevalence of English-learners in public schools and their
struggles, an 18-group coalition—including the American Federation of
Teachers, Californians Together, League of United Latin American Citizens,
Migration Policy Institute, National Association for Bilingual Education,
TESOL International Association, and UnidosUS—wrote to DeVos this week,
asking her to pour more resources into the office of English-language

The reorganization "would necessarily and inevitably diminish the time,
attention, and supporting expertise and analysis applied to EL issues,"
their letter to DeVos reads. "Rather than diminishing the role of OELA by
subsuming it in a much larger organization, where it would be forced to
compete for resources and attention, we believe that the present time
affords an opportunity to strengthen OELA."

The groups also questioned whether DeVos has the right to reorganize the
office because federal law requires that the office have a director who
reports directly to the education secretary.

The coalition worries that lumping in English-learner issues with those of
other students under Title I would undermine an office that has already
taken its fair share of lumps. Advocates and researchers contend that
policy decisions made during the Obama administration also weakened the
clout and capacity of the office
<http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/12/12/14ncela_ep.h32.html>, leaving
schools across the country without clear direction and coherent policy and
practices on English-learner education.

The lack of commitment to the office has also prevented the nation from
adequately addressing the national shortage of qualified bilingual teachers
and meeting the growing national demand for language-immersion programs
the advocates argue.

Here's a look at the advocacy groups' letter to DeVos:

   DeVos OELA Reorganization Coalition Letter
by corey_c_mitchell
<https://www.scribd.com/user/118260415/corey-c-mitchell#from_embed> on

*Related Stories and Videos*

Ed. Department Focus on English-Learners Seen Waning

Ed. Department Project to Focus on Newly Arrived English-Language Learners

Feds Offer Guide to Providing Quality Education for English-Language

Ed. Dept. Falling Short in Support of English-Learners, Report Says

*Photo: Teaching assistant Richard Nolasco listens to Joshua Flores and
Ke'mari Barnes during their prekindergarten class at Tulsa's Dual Language
Academy. The population of Oklahoma's second-largest school district has
shifted dramatically in recent years, with nearly 1 in every 3 students
coming from homes where Spanish is the primary language. **--Shane Bevel
for Education Week*

   - Bilingual Education
   - Federal Policy
   - Immigration


   - ELL <http://blogs.edweek.org/tags.html?tagID=1823&rblog=36>
   - ELLs <http://blogs.edweek.org/tags.html?tagID=1265&rblog=36>
   - english language learners
   - English learners
   - federal government
   - federal policy <http://blogs.edweek.org/tags.html?tagID=2485&rblog=36>
   - OELA <http://blogs.edweek.org/tags.html?tagID=7214&rblog=36>

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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