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On July 14, 2021, the Center for Applied Linguistics organized a distinguished group of national experts in multilingual education to present to Congressional members and staffer on the importance of Educating America’s Emerging Multilingual Learners.
For too long, the needs of the nation’s 5 million emerging multilingual learners (also labeled “English Learners”) have been overlooked, resulting in disproportionately inadequate funding and insufficient academic progress. Multilingualism is an asset – to the nation and to the individual learner – and we should recognize emerging multilingual learners for the strengths they bring to all learning environments.
Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was established to ensure that federal funds support the education of English learners (ELs). Between 2001 and 2017, the EL population grew by 28.1%. However, when adjusting for inflation, Title III funding has actually decreased by 12.3% since 2010.
Finally, the benefits of multilingualism and biliteracy have been amply documented by the research community. Students who achieve biliteracy by the time they leave high school have higher graduation rates, higher GPAs, higher matriculation rates, have higher college completion rates, and earn more over the course of their careers than their monolingual peers.
Moreover, the United States depends on its multilingual citizenry to meet crucial operational requirements in national security, to staff American businesses working globally, and to provide language access to more than 65 million Americans who speak a language other than English at home. Ensuring the education of our emerging multilingual learners is a vital national interest.
Peggy McLeod Ed.D, moderator
Peggy is the Deputy Vice President for Education and Workforce Development at UnidosUS (formerly known as the National Council of La Raza), where she oversees all education and workforce development programs, including charter school networks. Read more.
Dr. Keira Ballantyne
Dr Keira Ballantyne is the Vice President for Programs at the Center for Applied Linguistics. Keira has more than fifteen years' experience as an applied linguist at the intersection of language and culture in the United States. Her work has focused on practical applications of research in instruction, professional development, and assessment. Read more.
Dr. Eugene Garcia
Dr. Gene García is a Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University (ASU). He served as the director of bilingual education and minority languages affairs in the U.S. Department of Education from 1993 to 1995. Dr. García has published extensively in the area of language teaching and bilingual development authoring and/or co-authoring over 200 articles and book chapters along with 14 books. Read more.
Gabriela Uro is the Director for English Language Learner Policy and Research for the Council of the Great City Schools, where she is responsible for all matters pertaining to English Language Learners (ELLs). Read more.
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