Washington, DC—U.S. English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica today responded to new guidelines issued this week by the Obama administration regarding the civil rights of English language learners.
Issued in a 40-page letter from officials at the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, the guidelines are intended to remind school districts of the laws outlined in the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act as they relate to serving students who are limited English proficient.
Among the requirements are identifying English learner students in a timely manner, ensuring language assistance programs are educationally sound, appropriately staffing these programs, monitoring and evaluating the progress of students, transitioning students to mainstream classes as quickly as possible and ensuring meaningful communication with parents of these limited English proficient students.
“With English language learners in the United States now accounting for nine percent of all public school students, it is crucial that these students receive the services they need to ensure English proficiency is achieved as quickly as possible,” Chairman Mujica said. “English is the language of success in this country, and becoming fluent will ensure that all students are on track for future success.”
The guidelines also reiterate the requirement that schools provide communications to the parents of English language learners in a language that the parent can understand.
“These guidelines also make clear the ongoing need for expanded opportunities for individuals of all ages to learn English,” Mujica added. “With the number of languages spoken in some school districts reaching the double digits, it can be an enormous burden on district staff and district budgets to provide foreign language translations in multiple languages. Without English proficiency, a resident of the United States is likely trapped in a menial job, facing language barriers on a daily basis, including when interacting with a child’s school. In addition to their recent actions to enforce the rights of English language learner students, the federal government would be well serving all residents of the United States by adding an incentive for all residents to become English proficient and by finding ways to fund additional English language learning opportunities for all.”