The agenda for the LEP Partnership meeting scheduled for this Wednesday and Thursday lists Zollie Stevenson as the director of student achievement and school accountability programs for both Title I and Title III programs of the No Child Left Behind Act. Title I authorizes funds for disadvantaged students and also includes some provisions for English-language learners, and Title III is the main conduit of funding for English-language-acquisition programs.
Mr. Stevenson’s title [Updated: Previously I wrote “Ms. Stevenson.” My apologies.] indicates that the U.S. Department of Education has carried through with its intent to put Title I and Title III under the same administration, effective this fall. The Title III program had previously been administered by the office of English-language acquisition, or OELA.
Rosa Castro Feinberg, the education commissioner for Florida’s League of United Latin American Citizens, tells me that a number of education organizations have sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings opposing the move of the Title III program from OELA. She forwarded the Aug. 28 letter to me.
In the letter, the organizations point out that “OELA is the only federal office charged with addressing the education needs of ELLs.” The letter continues:
At a time when ELLs are growing in number and prominence in policy discussions, the department plans to parcel out core functions of the OELA. We are concerned that this sends a message to ELL educators that the education of ELLs can be addressed with a weaker federal office rather than a stronger one.
Among the national groups that signed the letter are the National Council of La Raza, National Education Association, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. LULAC, which had already publicly opposed the move of the Title III program, has also signed the letter.
Federal education officials have said the move will provide better coordination of the administration and monitoring of the two programs.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.