Learning English & honoring Hispanic heritage

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The Education Commission of the States (ECS) invited UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) to submit a blog post on our policy priorities for Latino students in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. ECS is a non-partisan think tank that assists governors, state legislators, state education officials, and their staff on education-related public policy.

The following is a piece on the importance of English language acquisition, and a call to action for decision-makers to promote culturally responsive practices to support English language proficiency under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

English language acquisition is essential to a child’s academic success in American public schools. There are currently 5 million English learners (ELs) in public schools across the United States; 80 percent are Spanish-speaking. Each of these students has a unique cultural background and situation, and a varying degree of English language acquisition. But all ELs desire to be welcomed into school communities the same as any other child.

ELs are not a uniform group. On a given day, a US public school may enroll an unaccompanied teenager from El Salvador with little formal schooling, a Puerto Rican child who speaks both Spanish and English at home, and/or a child of migrant workers from Mexico who has moved from school to school. There is inevitably a range of characteristics and learning needs of students classified as ELs.

Please read the rest of this piece on the website of the Education Commission of the States.

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