To the Editor:
A recent blog post discussed the proposed cut to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget (“Trump Seeks 10 Percent Cut to Education Department Aid, $5 Billion for Tax-Credit Scholarships,” March 11, 2019). While much of the analysis of the recently released budget proposal has focused on changes to program expenditures, equally important to consider are programs for which levels of funding remain stagnant.
One such example is spending on English-language acquisition. According to a 2017 budget report, funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, which includes expenditures for the provision of language and for research, have remained around $730 million annually since 2010. This has occurred while the number of English-language learners in schools has continued to rise from 3.8 million students in 2000 to 4.8 million students in 2015. Because funding levels have not grown with the number of students, there has been a decrease in states’ per student funds provided by the federal government.
A 2017 NPR article notes that the national graduation rate for English-language learners is 63 percent compared to the overall average of 82. This vulnerable group remains underserved by the educational system. While funding alone will not bridge the gap completely, English-language learners will continue to lag behind their English proficient peers until sufficient financial resources are made available.
A version of this article appeared in the April 10, 2019 edition of Education Week as Resources Required for ELLs