If Adrian Fenty, the mayor of the District of Columbia, gets approval from the D.C. Council to take charge of the District of Columbia schools, he’ll have an expert on hand who understands the needs of English-language learners.
Julia Lara headed various initiatives to benefit English-learners for 20 years at the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, but left that organization in June. After some gardening and relaxation, she started a new job on Jan. 16, she told me in a telephone interview last week, as the special assistant for the D.C.'s deputy mayor for education, Victor Reinoso.
Ms. Lara’s most recent claim to fame was directing a consortium for the CCSSO that produced a test for English-language proficiency that states can use to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. I wrote about these tests for Education Week in July. The test Ms. Lara helped to create is designed to meet federal requirements for assessing children in reading, writing, speaking, and listening and is estimated to take four to six hours to administer. I can see why she needed to garden and relax after leaving her CCSSO job.
In her new post, Ms. Lara’s first task is to try to improve early childhood education in the District of Columbia. “My job’s not focused on English-language learners,” she told me, “but because of who I am and where I’ve been, I plan to infuse those considerations into the work, so we always include the needs of children with special needs as we talk about early childhood education and education.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.