A ‘Bill of Rights’ for English-Language Learners

By Mary Ann Zehr — March 02, 2009 1 min read
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The California Association for Bilingual Education and Pearson have created a “Bill of Rights” for English-language learners that stresses the need for teachers who work with them to have specialized training. It also emphasizes the benefits of teaching ELLs in such a way that enables them to maintain their native language while they are learning English.

Many states are lacking policies that support these “rights.” For example, only Arizona, Florida, and New York require all prospective teachers to have training in how to work with ELLs, according to Quality Counts 2009. Only 11 states have incentives for teachers to receive an English-as-a-second-language endorsement or a bilingual endorsement.

A number of states have policies that make it difficult for educators to support students in maintaining their native languages. For example, seven states—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin—either ban or restrict the use of native-language instruction with ELLs, according to Quality Counts 2009.

I wonder if coming up with a “Bill of Rights” for English-language learners that all states could agree on is about as difficult as coming up with a set of national standards for all students that all states would endorse.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.