A joint guidance letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice was recently issued to address equal access for English language learners. English learners (ELs) now constitute nine percent of all public school students, and their numbers are steadily increasing. The letter recognizes the recent milestone 40th anniversaries of Lau v. Nichols and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The letter applauds those working to ensure equal educational opportunities for EL students, as well as those programs that recognize the heritage languages of EL students as valuable assets to preserve.
Also available are these resources: fact sheets in English and in other languages addressing school’s obligations to students, fact sheets in English and in other languages related to communicating with limited English proficient parents, and a toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students. The toolkit contains placement test checklists and sample home language surveys in several languages, which may be helpful when you have students from these language backgrounds.