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Overview:

The Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) was established by order of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Its purpose is to support the integration of non- or limited-English-speaking students into the federal school system through the administration of primarily English language programs. OELA is responsible for the distribution of $1 billion in federal grant funds to institutions of higher education, state education agencies, districts, schools, and community-based organizations. During the past decade, government review of the office found a lack of “ambitious goals and timeframes in which to accomplish them,” and emphasized the increasing need presented by the millions of non-English speaking students in U.S. schools.

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History:

There are currently more than 5.3 million students in U.S. schools who have limited English language skills. These students are protected by civil rights law, and U.S. school districts are required to provide them with “equal opportunity” to succeed in the school system through “affirmative” measures. For several decades, policymakers, educators, and politicians have battled over these measures, and over how English Language Learners (ELLs) are to be instructed in the U.S. school system.

 

First passed in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been the largest source of federal support for K-12 education. The ESEA helped provide funding for the neediest students and schools, in part by coordinating efforts among federal, state and local governments. Since it was enacted, the bill has been reauthorized several times, most recently with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

 

As part of that reauthorization, a Republican Congress replaced the Bilingual Education Act with the English Language Acquisition Act, and the former United States Department of Education's Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs with the new Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. The name change aptly reflects a shift in policy—from an emphasis on bilingual instruction to a more “English only” approach to integrating non- or limited-English-speaking students into the federal school system. The NCLB established new, steep standards for student and school achievement with periodic testing—which, according to critics, combines with the English-only approach to marginalize students in need of English instruction. 

 

In addition to formalizing a policy agenda pushing for “evidence” that federal education programs would produce measurable results in student achievement and success, the NCLB’s new English language mandate killed all reference to bilingual education, a clear bias toward English immersion. (See Debate section)

 

In the landmark Lau v. Nichols case, the Supreme Court ruled that identical education does not constitute equal education under the Civil Rights Act by “merely providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.” The decision further mandated that school districts must take “affirmative steps” to overcome educational barriers faced by non-English speakers, but did not specify a methodology.
 

Before the creation of the OELA in 2001, the Bilingual Education Act of 1994 (the fifth and final reauthorization of Title VII of the ESEA, first passed in 1968) had provided competitive grants directly to school districts to help English-language learners (ELLs), with a strong emphasis on professional development programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The 1994 reauthorization was the strongest version of the Act, promoting bilingual educations for ELLs.

 

In 2001, the Bilingual Education Act was terminated and replaced with NCLB. While NCLB policy refrains from either promoting or prohibiting native-language instruction, it removed all references to “bilingual education” and “bilingualism” as educational goals found in the preceding Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

 

Title III’s formula grants for English learner programs are distributed at the state level on a per-capita basis and require, with some controversy, annual assessments of English proficiency (even at the kindergarten level). At the state level, California’s 1998 Prop 227 mandated English-only instruction for most ELLs, followed shortly by similar legislation in Arizona, Prop 203, which is thought to be an even more restrictive moratorium on bilingual programs for ESL students. 

 

To see what programs currently are being used in a particular state, see the most recent Biennial Report to Congress (pdf).

What Program Models Exist to Serve English Language Learners?

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What it Does:

According to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA—see below), the number of English-language learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools has more than doubled over the past 15 years, and ELL enrollment has increased nearly seven times the rate of total student enrollment during the same period. (See NCELA FAQ for more info on ELL student enrollment rates).

 

By the government’s count, there are more than 5.3 million students in U.S. schools today who have limited English skills that affect their ability to learn. Federal and state laws mandate that these students have equal access to a quality education—although they do not specify what methods are to be used to achieve this goal.

 

According to the agency, its mission is to “identify major issues affecting the education of ELLs, and to assist and support state and local systemic reform efforts that emphasize high academic standards, school accountability, professional training and parent involvement.”

 

Under Title III (pdf) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) administers funding for English language programs designed to help Limited English Proficient (LEP) and immigrant students in the school system. The OELA responsibilities under Title III include:

  • Administering grant programs that help children develop proficiency in English and achieve high content standards.
  • Recommending policies and promoting best practices for meeting the needs of English language learners.
  • Strengthening collaboration and coordination among federal, state, and local programs serving English-language learners.
  • Monitoring funded programs and providing technical assistance that focus on outcomes and accountability.

 

The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), formerly the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, supports the OELA in its administration of Title II and NCLB as it applies to English language learners. The NCELA is “authorized to collect, analyze, synthesize, and disseminate information about language instruction educational programs for limited English proficient children, and related programs. Priority is given to information on academic content and English proficiency assessments and accountability systems.”

 

The agency’s emphasis on English language programs for immigrant and limited English proficient (LEP) students is carried out through Title III programs (Title III is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and covers most federal K-12 schools). The OELA also administers discretionary grants under Title VII of the former Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the NCELA, and oversees some foreign language grants under Title V of the NCLB.

 

The office is also responsible for identifying issues and challenges in the English language acquisition system, and supports state and local reforms.

 NCELA Publications

National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education

 

The OELA is made up of three divisions:

·Office of the Assistant Deputy Secretary – Office of the director of the OELA

·Special Initiatives Division – Responsible for activities that will support and address services to ELL students. The division works to link resources and information, and promote and enhance the involvement of families in the educational process.

·Discretionary Grants Division – Responsible for the administration of the National Professional Development Program, the Foreign Language Assistance Program, and the Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program. It also supports the National Security Language Initiative.

 

The NCELA’s Intro to Language Instruction Ed programs are:

 

Under No Child Left Behind, states are required to develop annual, measurable achievement objectives for limited English proficient (LEP) students that measure their success in English proficiency and in the academic system, generally. Distributed to states according to the number of immigrant and LEP populations, state grants are designed to help LEP (elementary and secondary) students keep pace with the challenging state-level standards and goals. The program provides “enhanced instructional opportunities for immigrant children and youths.” Specifically, schools use funds to implement or expand language instruction programs—including immersion programs, curriculum and professional development and distance learning. Programs must be based on “scientifically based research.” The OELA can also support school-wide or system-wide programs to “restructure, reform, or upgrade all programs, activities, or operations related to the education of their LEP students.”

Annual Performance Reports

National Professional Development Program

Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program

Foreign Language Assistance Program

 

Under Title V, the Office had administered funds for strategic foreign language acquisition:

Foreign Language Assistance Programs (FLAP) – Provided grants to establish, improve, or expand innovative foreign language programs for elementary and secondary school students. This program was eliminated in the FY 2012. All competitions and funding were discontinued, as of FY 2012 and beyond.

 

From the Web Site of the Office of English Language Acquisition

Contact Information

English Language Acquisition State Grants

FAQs

NCELA

News and Announcements

Newsletter Archive

Offices

Programs and Initiatives

Registration, Regulation, and Guidance

Reports and Resources

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Where Does the Money Go:

The money goes to schools, districts, and community-based organizations that provide English and foreign language instruction—but other stakeholders include English Only advocates and lobbyists; teachers and other professionals in the school system; immigrant children; their families and the organizations that advocate on their behalf; bilingual education advocates; and related producers, service providers and consumers.

 

The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA) is funded by the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA).

 

For more details on individual funded programs (including funding status) see:

Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program

National Professional Development Program

Foreign Language Assistance Program (SEAs)

Foreign Language Assistance Program (LEAs)

English Language Acquisition State Grants

Elementary School Foreign Language Incentive Program

 

In terms of contractor spending, the OELA has paid out more than $2 million on 35 contractor transactions since the agency’s establishment in 2001, according to USAspending.gov. The top three products or services purchased by OELA have been technical assistance ($1,981,027), education services ($21,800), and office supplies ($1,376). The top five recipients of this contractor spending are:

 

1. George Washington University                            $1,981,027     

2. OfficeMax, Inc.                                                            $1,376     

3. Sheryl E. Zacharkiw                                                    $1,200     

4. Lisa Harris                                                                    $1,200     

5. Stephen Brock                                                              $1,200

 

Awards Information

2007 Title III Grant Awards: Department Findings, Conditions and Decision Letters

 

2006

Number of New Awards Anticipated: 86

Average New Award: $150,000

Range of New Awards: $50,000–$300,000

Number of Continuation Awards: 45

Average Continuation Award: $138,146

Range of Continuation Awards: $33,057–$175,000

 

2003

Number of New Awards Anticipated: 89

Average Size of Awards: $112,500

Range of Awards: $50,000–$175,000

President's FY 2009 Budget Request for ED

 

OELA Funding

Appropriations

Fiscal Year 2000: $7,269,823

Fiscal Year 2001: $12,800,000

Fiscal Year 2002: $7,449,767

Fiscal Year 2003: $15,981,619

Fiscal Year 2004: $16,545,800

Fiscal Year 2005: $15,833,974

Fiscal Year 2006: $19,193,427

English Language State Grant Reports, 2005-2012

Guide to State-by-State Information

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Controversies:

Arizona’s Segregation of English-Language Learners

Arizona’s controversial English emersion program for students represented de facto segregation, according to critics.

 

Under the English Language Development (ELD) program, students were forced to study English four hours a day, usually in separate classes from English-proficient students. The program was developed in 2007 in response to federal court orders (stemming from a 1992 case, Flores v. Horne, which eventually landed in the Supreme Court) requiring that the state offer an appropriate education to English-language learners (ELLs).

 

Two researchers from UCLA found numerous problems with the program, calling it “A Return to the Mexican Room.”

 

The program, wrote Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, was harmful to students’ achievement and social and emotional development, and exacerbated the existing segregation of these students.

 

Furthermore, the ELD was not moving the great majority of these students toward full English proficiency within one year, thus exposing them to “years of this unnecessary segregation and lack of access to the regular curriculum, pushing them further and further behind academically.”

“Arizona’s ELL program is a Draconian way to force children to learn English in a year, which is stupid and contrary to research,” Carlos Ovando, an Arizona State University professor and scholar who has co-authored several books on Arizona’s ELL programs, told Cronkite News.

Another ASU professor, Laida Restrepo, said: “The state implements these laws for political reasons with very little scientific backing. It gets people elected and it gives the politician brownie points, but it is not rooted in science.”

 

In 2009, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Arizona so that the efficacy of the ELD program could be examined. Tom Horne, the former Arizona public instruction superintendent who implemented the program, contended that it was sent back to the state as a response to Arizona’s recent adoption of a strict illegal-immigration law. In March 2013, a district court found that the four-hour daily immersion program did not violate civil-rights laws.

Segregating Arizona’s English Learners: A Return to the "Mexican Room"? (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, Teachers College Record)

A Return to the “Mexican Room” (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, UCLA)

Hearing on Federal ELL Case Gets Under Way in Arizona (by Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week)

Judge Upholds Arizona Program for English-Language Learner Classes (by Anne Ryman, Republic)

Arizona’s English Immersion Program Could Be Unlawful (by Lauren Gambino, Cronkite News)

State-Mandated English Policy Under Fire In Arizona (by Claudio Sanchez, NPR)

 

ACLU Lawsuit over California Program

Several chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued a Central Valley, California, school district in 2012, claiming its program for English learners was proving destructive to students’ education.

 

The Dinuba Unified School District agreed to settle the case while claiming the program was a success. Superintendent Joe Hernandez said the district settled only to avoid a protracted legal battle and costly legal fees.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, Dinuba Unified promised to replace its controversial reading program, Second Language Acquisition Development Instruction (SLADI), hire two English language learning consultants suggested by the plaintiffs, and offer after-school and summer interventions for SLADI students.

 

SLADI had forced first- and second-graders to spend 2.5 hour a day outside the regular classroom to concentrate on an intensive approach to learning grammar and spelling.

 

Teachers and parents who sued with the ACLU’s help said children in the SLADI program fell behind their classmates in reading and were denied exposure to literature and vocabulary.

District Settles with ACLU over Program for English Learners (by John Fensterwald, EdSource)

Compromise and Release Agreement (EdSource)

 

Problem of Defining Proficiency in ELL Programs

One mission of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) is to help ensure that English-language learners achieve proficiency in the language, but education experts struggle even to define the point at which ELLs become proficient, which is critical in determining the effectiveness of ELL programs.

 

For instance, a language program may succeed in teaching students how to write essays in French. But the instruction will do them little good if they attempt to converse in French while visiting France.

 

“In sum, academic experiences and activities at every level are generally more abstract and lacking in context than day-to-day, real-life communication, so they present difficulties for students who have not developed academic language skills,” Judith Lessow-Hurley wrote for ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). 

 

Lessow-Hurley added that, “children who have playground English are often judged as English proficient even though they may not be able to handle the demands of schooling in their new language. Failure to distinguish between contexts unfairly sets up those students for failure.”

Meeting the Needs of Second Language Learners (by Judith Lessow-Hurley, ASCD)

English Language Proficiency Levels

 

States Slow to Meet Federal ELL Goals

A report from the U.S. Department of Education released in 2012 revealed that most states were still struggling to meet federal goals for ELLs regarding mathematics and reading.

 

Seventeen states in the 2006-07 school year reported meeting all three academic goals for ELLs, which included progress in learning English, attainment of fluency, and demonstration of proficiency on state content tests in reading and math.

 

But that progress stalled by the 2007-08 school year when just 11 states reported that they met all three targets. In the following year, 2008-09, the number dropped again—to 10 states. Those that met the targets in that year included Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and West Virginia.

States Show Slow Progress With English-Learners (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Study: Most ELLs Are in Districts That Fall Short on Federal Goals (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Schools Fail to Meet Goals for ELL Students (by Julie Wootton, Magic Valley)

National Evaluation of Title III Implementation—Report on State and Local Implementation (American Institutes for Research) (pdf)

 

Using Graphic Novels for ELL Programs

In an effort to encourage ELLs to read and become proficient in English, some people have suggested ELL instructors use comic books and graphic novels. ELLs might be intimidated by the amount of text in books, one researcher proposed, making comics more appealing as reading materials.

 

Comics and graphic novels materials can provide language learners with “contextualized comprehensible input,” says researcher Amy Baker. Comics might also engage students and encourage them to explore other types of publications, perhaps even books, magazines, and newspapers.

 

Advocates say comics also help ELL students to pick up on slang and other elements of the English language and better understand “the ambiguity, vagueness and downright sloppiness of spoken English.”

Using Comics to Improve Literacy in English Language Learners (by Amy Baker, University of Central Missouri)

Using Comics with ESL/EFL Students (by Justine Derrick, The Internet TESL Journal)

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Suggested Reforms:

Recommendations for Helping ELL Students

As if learning English as an immigrant isn’t challenging enough for students, many English-language learners (ELLs) also have experienced interrupted schooling as a result of different factors.

 

ELL students sometimes have lost access to schools in their home country before coming to the U.S. The interruptions can stem from economic troubles or civil strife.

 

Other students have had interruptions in the education because they returned to their home country after their parents were deported, only to come back to the United States later and resume their American schooling.

 

The challenges facing ELL students with interrupted educations, as well as instructors trying to educate them, include children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, identity issues or unfamiliarity with American culture.

 

Two education experts, Kristina Robertson and Susan Lafond, offered several recommendations to ELL teachers for how to help kids with interrupted educations. These include:

 

  • Building supportive environments that respond to the immediate social, cultural, and linguistic needs of immigrant adolescents with limited schooling.

 

  • Implementing newcomer centers and/or programs to ease transitions for newly immigrated students.

 

  • Creating collaboration models across high school academic departments to support simultaneous linguistic and academic development.

 

  • Implementing flexible scheduling to reflect real needs and obligations of high school immigrants.

How to Support ELL Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFEs) (by Kristina Robertson and Susan Lafond, Colorín Colorado)

Yes, Students with Interrupted Formal Education Can Catch Up (by Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week)

Students with Interrupted Formal Education: Best Practices (by Christine Rowland, AFT TEACH Conference)

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Debate:

Should English-language learners be given a bilingual education?

Background

The defining national debate in and surrounding this agency is over the approach to teaching non- or limited-English speakers. “Bilingual education” and “English immersion” are the two main competing methods.

 

Under civil rights law, schools have a legal obligation to ensure that minority students and students with limited English abilities have access to quality education and academic achievement.

 

In 1974, the Supreme Court established that “there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.”

 

While the government mandates that school districts take “affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students,” federal and state law does not specify the content of these “steps.” Thus, there is much debate surrounding how relevant policy is developed and implemented.

 

The debate over bilingual education centers on if and how much limited-English proficient (LEP) students’ education should include instruction in their native language. Supporters argue that competency in one’s native language provides crucial cognitive and social tools necessary for both language proficiency and general learning—and that bilingual education leads to much higher rates of  “biliteracy.” Opponents believe that early English instruction gives students a leg up and advocate minimal use of native language.

 

In the 1980s, the “English Only” bilingual opposition group gained momentum, supported by cultural conservatives who claimed bilingual education causes ethnic and racial separatism and argued for assimilationist policies. By 1988, the movement had spent nearly $18 million in 39 state campaigns to pass legislation making English the official language. Thereafter, the movement lost power, as supporters were increasingly linked to more sinister political objectives and activities—such as anti-immigration policies, population control, and eugenics.

Wikipedia on Bilingual Education

 

Aside from its blatantly racist undertones, arguments advanced by the English Only movement are attacked for be staunchly ideological, defying consistent research that demonstrated the clear advantages of bilingual education.

 

While most academics and linguists generally agreed on a more positive vision of bilingual education, media treatment of the debate was stacked in favor of the opposition. As stated in a report presented at the 1992 National Conference of the American Association of Higher Education, media coverage was overwhelmingly negative, while, “by contrast, the academic debate lines up virtually all North American applied linguists who have carried out research on language learning as advocates of bilingual programs against only a handful of academics who oppose bilingual education. None of those who oppose bilingual education has a background in the discipline of applied linguistics.”

 

Subsequent research continued to demonstrate the benefits of bilingual education over English immersion practices, but opponents attacked the underlying methodologies and claimed much leading research in the debate was outdated.

Research, Ethics, and Public Discourse: The Debate on Bilingual Education (by Jim Cummins, National Conference of the American Association of Higher Education)

Double Talk? (by Betty Ann Bowser, PBS Newshour)

The Bilingual Education Debate: Part I (by Sharon Cromwell, Education World)

Proposition 227: Anti-Bilingual Education Initiative in California

Bilingual Education Links

Landmark Court Rulings Regarding English Language Learners (by Wayne E. Wright, Colorín Colorado)

Bilingual Education: Overview and Online Resources (GreatSchools)

Debating the Efficacy of Bilingual Education Programs (by Matthew Lynch)

 

Pro (in favor of bilingual education):

Supporters insist bilingual education is a basic human and civil right for children. Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of a Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 states that “the education of the child should be directed to ... the development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values.” Article 30 states that “a child belonging to an [ethnic, religious, or linguistic minority] should not be denied the right ... to use his or her own language.”

 

In 1998, the Linguistic Society of America also affirmed this basic human right. It passed a resolution supporting the right of all U.S. residents “to have their children educated in a manner that affirmatively acknowledges their native language abilities as well as ensures their acquisition of English.”

 

Numerous studies confirm that students who receive bilingual education stay in school longer, score higher on English and other subject matter tests and have higher graduation rates, compared to those immersed in English only. English “immersion” is a sink-or-swim program, resulting in large numbers of immigrant children failing in schools, bilingual education supporters say.

Bilingual Education Under Racist Attack (Internationalist)

Bilingual Education Is A Human and Civil Right (Rethinking Schools)

Bilingual Education Attacked (by D.E. Campbell, education.com)

 

Con (opposed to bilingual education):

In a nation of immigrants, there must be a way for everyone to talk to each other. And that way is English, opponents of bilingual education argue. The English language unites America, and the elimination of bilingual education means ending the use of tax dollars to divide Americans on the basis of language or ancestry.

 

Bilingual instruction has been proven a failure. In California, such programs kept children in Spanish language instruction for up to seven years. The result was Latino students never fully mastering English, scoring poorly on tests, and being unable to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the California and U.S. economies.

 

Proposition 227, which eliminated bilingual education after one year of instruction, was a resounding success. From 1998 to 2001, Latino test scores rose in California. The percentage of Latinos with reading test scores above the 50th percentile increased from 21% to 35%. The percentage of Latinos with math test scores above the 50th percentile increased from 27% to 46%.

 

“These are cold figures,” conservative writer Michael Barone wrote. “But think for a minute of their effects on individual lives. Opportunities are being opened up for hundreds of thousands of young Americans. The effects on millions of lives—and on the quality of life in the nation as a whole—are incalculable.”

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Former Directors:

Richard Smith (Acting Director)      May 2008 – August 2010

Biography (AllGov)

 

Margarita Pinkos

Margarita Pinkos emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 16 and grew up in Palm Beach County, Florida. She earned her A.A. degree from Palm Beach Community College, and then completed undergraduate studies in zoology at Florida Atlantic University in 1975. After living in Venezuela for nine years, Pinkos returned to Florida in 1984. She began a long career with the Palm Beach County Public Schools when she was hired as an ESL teacher at Northboro Elementary School in West Palm Beach. At the same time, she began her master's in education, which she finished in 1987 at Florida Atlantic University.

 

During the 1988-89 school year, she served as the district's Haitian Project Coordinator, and in 1989, she became assistant principal at South Area High School, where she worked for four years. During the 1993-94 school year, Pinkos worked on the Area 5 Instructional team, coordinating and supporting ESL programs in 40 schools.

 

In 1994, Pinkos ran Gove Elementary School in rural Belle Glade, near Lake Okeechobee, Florida, where she spent five years. While working at Gove, she also taught education classes part-time as an adjunct faculty member at Palm Beach Community College.

 

From 1999 to 2006, Pinkos served as the executive director for the district's Multicultural Education Department. She also continued to teach education classes as an adjunct faculty member for Florida Atlantic University, while finishing her doctorate there in educational leadership in 2002.

 

Pinkos joined the Department of Education as a senior policy adviser to the secretary and deputy secretary in 2006, and was appointed as the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) acting assistant deputy secretary the next year.

 

President George W. Bush named Margarita Pinkos as assistant deputy secretary and director of the OELA on Dec. 23, 2007. She resigned in May 2008.

Official Bio

 

Kathleen Leos

On September 1, 2005, Kathleen Leos was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Department of Education’s OELA. Before her appointment, Leos had served as Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary and Senior Policy Advisor in the OELA since 2002.

 

In 1991, while serving as PTA president at her child’s elementary school, Leos, with other parents and community members from six different cultures, successfully led a movement against involuntary busing in East Dallas and advocated for the construction of two new schools in her neighborhood. Later she was a member of the Dallas Public Schools Board of Education (DISD). While serving on the Board of Education, the DISD created controversy a few times. In 1997, Leos supported the proposal that the DISD purchase an old church and convert it into a public school because of the lack of classrooms to meet the increase in Dallas’ population. In 2000, the DISD decided to privatize the Dallas public schools through a company called Edison Schools Inc. despite its failed attempt to improve schooling in Sherman, Oklahoma. That same year, Leos was policy adviser on the new education bill, No Child Left Behind, which President George W. Bush signed into law on January 8, 2002. Just one year later, Leos was appointed to the OELA, the department responsible for carrying out the No Child Left Behind Act.

 

In 1992, Leos founded the non-profit agency, Basic English Inc, which was awarded the Laura Bush First Lady Family Literacy Award in 2001. Leos also coauthored Texas’ HB 103, known as the “No Exemption Law,” which required all English language students to be included in Texas’ accountability system. Leos was director of the Dallas Services for Visually Impaired Children from 1988 to 1999.

 

Leos speaks Spanish as well as English.

Washington Post Online Chat with Kathleen Leos

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Comments

Bozo 5 years ago
The most worthless department of them all. There should be NO federal collection of tax dollars for education at this level. States are responsible for education.

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Founded: 2001
Annual Budget: $732 million (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 24 (FY 2013)
Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)
Viana, José
Director

President Trump named José Viana assistant deputy secretary of education and director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) on April 12, 2017. OELA awards federal grants to support the integration of non- or limited-English-speaking students into school systems around the country. OELA also supports professional development programs for teachers of English learners. Viana succeeds Libia Gil, who served starting in September 2013.

 

José Alejandro Viana was born September 3, 1969, in Miami. His father, also named José, was a  political prisoner under Fidel Castro for several years. The young José spoke Spanish at home, and thus started his schooling as an English language learner. He earned a B.A. in Elementary Education and Teaching at Florida International University in 1992, an M.A. in Computer Education at Barry University in Miami in 1994, and an M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administration at Florida Atlantic University in 2006.

 

Even prior to finishing his undergraduate degree, Viana was teaching in the Miami-Dade Public Schools. From 1989 to 1999, he taught English as a Second Language to third through fifth grade students, while from 1999 to 2006, he taught geography, history, and technology at Herbert Ammons Middle School, which later became an International Baccalaureate school.

 

Also during these years, Viana was an adjunct professor of Education at Florida International University from 1994 to 2002. He also spent several months in 1999 teaching English as a Second Language to advanced placement high school students in Ostuni, Italy, through Global Volunteers

 

In 2006, Viana left Florida and relocated to Durham, North Carolina, to serve as an administrator at Eno Valley Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina. He established a districtwide parent advisement committee to help ensure that low-income Latino children met academic standards.

 

After two years in Durham, Viana moved on to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, serving eight years as an administrator of the state’s Migrant Education Program, which aims to help migrant students learn despite the huge obstacles that migratory labor entails. At the same time, Viana also served as the vice-chair of the governing board for the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program.

 

In 2016, Viana taught English as a Second Language for advanced placement high school students preparing for the test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Beijing, China.

 

Viana and his wife, Aimee (Polanco), formerly senior executive director for marriage and family life in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, have three children. Viana was previously married, to Martha Beatriz Amezquita, from 1994 to 1996. Viana’s sister, Mercedes Schlapp, is a contributor to Fox News and a columnist for The Washington Times.

-Matt Bewig

To Learn More:

Official Biography

LinkedIn Profile

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Gil, Libia
Previous Director

Libia Gil, who was appointed September 9, 2013, to take over the Office of English Language Acquisition, is certainly an expert on the subject; English is the third language for the long-time educator.

 

Gil spent her early childhood in Costa Rica, where her father Jose is from, then moved to Hong Kong and subsequently Taiwan. Her mother Phoebe is from China. One of five children, Gil received her initial education in English at a Catholic school in Taiwan before coming to the United States as a teenager. Although she was by no means fluent in English, she did the translating for her parents after their move.

 

Gil earned a B.A. and an M.A. from Cal State Los Angeles and started her career as a classroom teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1970. She left there in 1972 and became a bilingual resource specialist for the ABC Unified School District in suburban Los Angeles. She subsequently became bilingual-ESL (English as a Second Language) coordinator, desegregation officer and an elementary school principal in the district.

 

Gil then moved on to the Seattle Public Schools, where she was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. While there, she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1989. In 1993, Gil was named superintendent of the Chula Vista Public Schools, near San Diego. There, she started dual language educational programs in English and Spanish in the district with a large Hispanic population.

 

Gil left Chula Vista in 2002 and undertook work in bilingual education at New American Schools, a non-profit research group that promoted designing educational programs from scratch and helped install them in public schools. In 2003, Gil was among those vying to be Seattle’s school superintendent, but took herself out of the running before the position was filled. New American Schools merged in 2005 with the American Institutes for Research, where Gil, as the organization’s managing director, developed the AIR Center for English Learners. Gil moved to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning in Chicago in 2011, becoming their vice president for practice. She held that position until joining the Department of Education.

 

Gil has three daughters.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Libia Gil: My Parents Provided Limitless Possibilities through Education (by Libia Gil, Homeroom—Department of Education)

Official Biography

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Overview:

The Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) was established by order of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Its purpose is to support the integration of non- or limited-English-speaking students into the federal school system through the administration of primarily English language programs. OELA is responsible for the distribution of $1 billion in federal grant funds to institutions of higher education, state education agencies, districts, schools, and community-based organizations. During the past decade, government review of the office found a lack of “ambitious goals and timeframes in which to accomplish them,” and emphasized the increasing need presented by the millions of non-English speaking students in U.S. schools.

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History:

There are currently more than 5.3 million students in U.S. schools who have limited English language skills. These students are protected by civil rights law, and U.S. school districts are required to provide them with “equal opportunity” to succeed in the school system through “affirmative” measures. For several decades, policymakers, educators, and politicians have battled over these measures, and over how English Language Learners (ELLs) are to be instructed in the U.S. school system.

 

First passed in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been the largest source of federal support for K-12 education. The ESEA helped provide funding for the neediest students and schools, in part by coordinating efforts among federal, state and local governments. Since it was enacted, the bill has been reauthorized several times, most recently with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

 

As part of that reauthorization, a Republican Congress replaced the Bilingual Education Act with the English Language Acquisition Act, and the former United States Department of Education's Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs with the new Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. The name change aptly reflects a shift in policy—from an emphasis on bilingual instruction to a more “English only” approach to integrating non- or limited-English-speaking students into the federal school system. The NCLB established new, steep standards for student and school achievement with periodic testing—which, according to critics, combines with the English-only approach to marginalize students in need of English instruction. 

 

In addition to formalizing a policy agenda pushing for “evidence” that federal education programs would produce measurable results in student achievement and success, the NCLB’s new English language mandate killed all reference to bilingual education, a clear bias toward English immersion. (See Debate section)

 

In the landmark Lau v. Nichols case, the Supreme Court ruled that identical education does not constitute equal education under the Civil Rights Act by “merely providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.” The decision further mandated that school districts must take “affirmative steps” to overcome educational barriers faced by non-English speakers, but did not specify a methodology.
 

Before the creation of the OELA in 2001, the Bilingual Education Act of 1994 (the fifth and final reauthorization of Title VII of the ESEA, first passed in 1968) had provided competitive grants directly to school districts to help English-language learners (ELLs), with a strong emphasis on professional development programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The 1994 reauthorization was the strongest version of the Act, promoting bilingual educations for ELLs.

 

In 2001, the Bilingual Education Act was terminated and replaced with NCLB. While NCLB policy refrains from either promoting or prohibiting native-language instruction, it removed all references to “bilingual education” and “bilingualism” as educational goals found in the preceding Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

 

Title III’s formula grants for English learner programs are distributed at the state level on a per-capita basis and require, with some controversy, annual assessments of English proficiency (even at the kindergarten level). At the state level, California’s 1998 Prop 227 mandated English-only instruction for most ELLs, followed shortly by similar legislation in Arizona, Prop 203, which is thought to be an even more restrictive moratorium on bilingual programs for ESL students. 

 

To see what programs currently are being used in a particular state, see the most recent Biennial Report to Congress (pdf).

What Program Models Exist to Serve English Language Learners?

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What it Does:

According to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA—see below), the number of English-language learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools has more than doubled over the past 15 years, and ELL enrollment has increased nearly seven times the rate of total student enrollment during the same period. (See NCELA FAQ for more info on ELL student enrollment rates).

 

By the government’s count, there are more than 5.3 million students in U.S. schools today who have limited English skills that affect their ability to learn. Federal and state laws mandate that these students have equal access to a quality education—although they do not specify what methods are to be used to achieve this goal.

 

According to the agency, its mission is to “identify major issues affecting the education of ELLs, and to assist and support state and local systemic reform efforts that emphasize high academic standards, school accountability, professional training and parent involvement.”

 

Under Title III (pdf) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) administers funding for English language programs designed to help Limited English Proficient (LEP) and immigrant students in the school system. The OELA responsibilities under Title III include:

  • Administering grant programs that help children develop proficiency in English and achieve high content standards.
  • Recommending policies and promoting best practices for meeting the needs of English language learners.
  • Strengthening collaboration and coordination among federal, state, and local programs serving English-language learners.
  • Monitoring funded programs and providing technical assistance that focus on outcomes and accountability.

 

The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), formerly the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, supports the OELA in its administration of Title II and NCLB as it applies to English language learners. The NCELA is “authorized to collect, analyze, synthesize, and disseminate information about language instruction educational programs for limited English proficient children, and related programs. Priority is given to information on academic content and English proficiency assessments and accountability systems.”

 

The agency’s emphasis on English language programs for immigrant and limited English proficient (LEP) students is carried out through Title III programs (Title III is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and covers most federal K-12 schools). The OELA also administers discretionary grants under Title VII of the former Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the NCELA, and oversees some foreign language grants under Title V of the NCLB.

 

The office is also responsible for identifying issues and challenges in the English language acquisition system, and supports state and local reforms.

 NCELA Publications

National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education

 

The OELA is made up of three divisions:

·Office of the Assistant Deputy Secretary – Office of the director of the OELA

·Special Initiatives Division – Responsible for activities that will support and address services to ELL students. The division works to link resources and information, and promote and enhance the involvement of families in the educational process.

·Discretionary Grants Division – Responsible for the administration of the National Professional Development Program, the Foreign Language Assistance Program, and the Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program. It also supports the National Security Language Initiative.

 

The NCELA’s Intro to Language Instruction Ed programs are:

 

Under No Child Left Behind, states are required to develop annual, measurable achievement objectives for limited English proficient (LEP) students that measure their success in English proficiency and in the academic system, generally. Distributed to states according to the number of immigrant and LEP populations, state grants are designed to help LEP (elementary and secondary) students keep pace with the challenging state-level standards and goals. The program provides “enhanced instructional opportunities for immigrant children and youths.” Specifically, schools use funds to implement or expand language instruction programs—including immersion programs, curriculum and professional development and distance learning. Programs must be based on “scientifically based research.” The OELA can also support school-wide or system-wide programs to “restructure, reform, or upgrade all programs, activities, or operations related to the education of their LEP students.”

Annual Performance Reports

National Professional Development Program

Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program

Foreign Language Assistance Program

 

Under Title V, the Office had administered funds for strategic foreign language acquisition:

Foreign Language Assistance Programs (FLAP) – Provided grants to establish, improve, or expand innovative foreign language programs for elementary and secondary school students. This program was eliminated in the FY 2012. All competitions and funding were discontinued, as of FY 2012 and beyond.

 

From the Web Site of the Office of English Language Acquisition

Contact Information

English Language Acquisition State Grants

FAQs

NCELA

News and Announcements

Newsletter Archive

Offices

Programs and Initiatives

Registration, Regulation, and Guidance

Reports and Resources

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Where Does the Money Go:

The money goes to schools, districts, and community-based organizations that provide English and foreign language instruction—but other stakeholders include English Only advocates and lobbyists; teachers and other professionals in the school system; immigrant children; their families and the organizations that advocate on their behalf; bilingual education advocates; and related producers, service providers and consumers.

 

The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA) is funded by the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA).

 

For more details on individual funded programs (including funding status) see:

Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program

National Professional Development Program

Foreign Language Assistance Program (SEAs)

Foreign Language Assistance Program (LEAs)

English Language Acquisition State Grants

Elementary School Foreign Language Incentive Program

 

In terms of contractor spending, the OELA has paid out more than $2 million on 35 contractor transactions since the agency’s establishment in 2001, according to USAspending.gov. The top three products or services purchased by OELA have been technical assistance ($1,981,027), education services ($21,800), and office supplies ($1,376). The top five recipients of this contractor spending are:

 

1. George Washington University                            $1,981,027     

2. OfficeMax, Inc.                                                            $1,376     

3. Sheryl E. Zacharkiw                                                    $1,200     

4. Lisa Harris                                                                    $1,200     

5. Stephen Brock                                                              $1,200

 

Awards Information

2007 Title III Grant Awards: Department Findings, Conditions and Decision Letters

 

2006

Number of New Awards Anticipated: 86

Average New Award: $150,000

Range of New Awards: $50,000–$300,000

Number of Continuation Awards: 45

Average Continuation Award: $138,146

Range of Continuation Awards: $33,057–$175,000

 

2003

Number of New Awards Anticipated: 89

Average Size of Awards: $112,500

Range of Awards: $50,000–$175,000

President's FY 2009 Budget Request for ED

 

OELA Funding

Appropriations

Fiscal Year 2000: $7,269,823

Fiscal Year 2001: $12,800,000

Fiscal Year 2002: $7,449,767

Fiscal Year 2003: $15,981,619

Fiscal Year 2004: $16,545,800

Fiscal Year 2005: $15,833,974

Fiscal Year 2006: $19,193,427

English Language State Grant Reports, 2005-2012

Guide to State-by-State Information

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Controversies:

Arizona’s Segregation of English-Language Learners

Arizona’s controversial English emersion program for students represented de facto segregation, according to critics.

 

Under the English Language Development (ELD) program, students were forced to study English four hours a day, usually in separate classes from English-proficient students. The program was developed in 2007 in response to federal court orders (stemming from a 1992 case, Flores v. Horne, which eventually landed in the Supreme Court) requiring that the state offer an appropriate education to English-language learners (ELLs).

 

Two researchers from UCLA found numerous problems with the program, calling it “A Return to the Mexican Room.”

 

The program, wrote Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, was harmful to students’ achievement and social and emotional development, and exacerbated the existing segregation of these students.

 

Furthermore, the ELD was not moving the great majority of these students toward full English proficiency within one year, thus exposing them to “years of this unnecessary segregation and lack of access to the regular curriculum, pushing them further and further behind academically.”

“Arizona’s ELL program is a Draconian way to force children to learn English in a year, which is stupid and contrary to research,” Carlos Ovando, an Arizona State University professor and scholar who has co-authored several books on Arizona’s ELL programs, told Cronkite News.

Another ASU professor, Laida Restrepo, said: “The state implements these laws for political reasons with very little scientific backing. It gets people elected and it gives the politician brownie points, but it is not rooted in science.”

 

In 2009, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Arizona so that the efficacy of the ELD program could be examined. Tom Horne, the former Arizona public instruction superintendent who implemented the program, contended that it was sent back to the state as a response to Arizona’s recent adoption of a strict illegal-immigration law. In March 2013, a district court found that the four-hour daily immersion program did not violate civil-rights laws.

Segregating Arizona’s English Learners: A Return to the "Mexican Room"? (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, Teachers College Record)

A Return to the “Mexican Room” (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, UCLA)

Hearing on Federal ELL Case Gets Under Way in Arizona (by Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week)

Judge Upholds Arizona Program for English-Language Learner Classes (by Anne Ryman, Republic)

Arizona’s English Immersion Program Could Be Unlawful (by Lauren Gambino, Cronkite News)

State-Mandated English Policy Under Fire In Arizona (by Claudio Sanchez, NPR)

 

ACLU Lawsuit over California Program

Several chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued a Central Valley, California, school district in 2012, claiming its program for English learners was proving destructive to students’ education.

 

The Dinuba Unified School District agreed to settle the case while claiming the program was a success. Superintendent Joe Hernandez said the district settled only to avoid a protracted legal battle and costly legal fees.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, Dinuba Unified promised to replace its controversial reading program, Second Language Acquisition Development Instruction (SLADI), hire two English language learning consultants suggested by the plaintiffs, and offer after-school and summer interventions for SLADI students.

 

SLADI had forced first- and second-graders to spend 2.5 hour a day outside the regular classroom to concentrate on an intensive approach to learning grammar and spelling.

 

Teachers and parents who sued with the ACLU’s help said children in the SLADI program fell behind their classmates in reading and were denied exposure to literature and vocabulary.

District Settles with ACLU over Program for English Learners (by John Fensterwald, EdSource)

Compromise and Release Agreement (EdSource)

 

Problem of Defining Proficiency in ELL Programs

One mission of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) is to help ensure that English-language learners achieve proficiency in the language, but education experts struggle even to define the point at which ELLs become proficient, which is critical in determining the effectiveness of ELL programs.

 

For instance, a language program may succeed in teaching students how to write essays in French. But the instruction will do them little good if they attempt to converse in French while visiting France.

 

“In sum, academic experiences and activities at every level are generally more abstract and lacking in context than day-to-day, real-life communication, so they present difficulties for students who have not developed academic language skills,” Judith Lessow-Hurley wrote for ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). 

 

Lessow-Hurley added that, “children who have playground English are often judged as English proficient even though they may not be able to handle the demands of schooling in their new language. Failure to distinguish between contexts unfairly sets up those students for failure.”

Meeting the Needs of Second Language Learners (by Judith Lessow-Hurley, ASCD)

English Language Proficiency Levels

 

States Slow to Meet Federal ELL Goals

A report from the U.S. Department of Education released in 2012 revealed that most states were still struggling to meet federal goals for ELLs regarding mathematics and reading.

 

Seventeen states in the 2006-07 school year reported meeting all three academic goals for ELLs, which included progress in learning English, attainment of fluency, and demonstration of proficiency on state content tests in reading and math.

 

But that progress stalled by the 2007-08 school year when just 11 states reported that they met all three targets. In the following year, 2008-09, the number dropped again—to 10 states. Those that met the targets in that year included Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and West Virginia.

States Show Slow Progress With English-Learners (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Study: Most ELLs Are in Districts That Fall Short on Federal Goals (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Schools Fail to Meet Goals for ELL Students (by Julie Wootton, Magic Valley)

National Evaluation of Title III Implementation—Report on State and Local Implementation (American Institutes for Research) (pdf)

 

Using Graphic Novels for ELL Programs

In an effort to encourage ELLs to read and become proficient in English, some people have suggested ELL instructors use comic books and graphic novels. ELLs might be intimidated by the amount of text in books, one researcher proposed, making comics more appealing as reading materials.

 

Comics and graphic novels materials can provide language learners with “contextualized comprehensible input,” says researcher Amy Baker. Comics might also engage students and encourage them to explore other types of publications, perhaps even books, magazines, and newspapers.

 

Advocates say comics also help ELL students to pick up on slang and other elements of the English language and better understand “the ambiguity, vagueness and downright sloppiness of spoken English.”

Using Comics to Improve Literacy in English Language Learners (by Amy Baker, University of Central Missouri)

Using Comics with ESL/EFL Students (by Justine Derrick, The Internet TESL Journal)

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Suggested Reforms:

Recommendations for Helping ELL Students

As if learning English as an immigrant isn’t challenging enough for students, many English-language learners (ELLs) also have experienced interrupted schooling as a result of different factors.

 

ELL students sometimes have lost access to schools in their home country before coming to the U.S. The interruptions can stem from economic troubles or civil strife.

 

Other students have had interruptions in the education because they returned to their home country after their parents were deported, only to come back to the United States later and resume their American schooling.

 

The challenges facing ELL students with interrupted educations, as well as instructors trying to educate them, include children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, identity issues or unfamiliarity with American culture.

 

Two education experts, Kristina Robertson and Susan Lafond, offered several recommendations to ELL teachers for how to help kids with interrupted educations. These include:

 

  • Building supportive environments that respond to the immediate social, cultural, and linguistic needs of immigrant adolescents with limited schooling.

 

  • Implementing newcomer centers and/or programs to ease transitions for newly immigrated students.

 

  • Creating collaboration models across high school academic departments to support simultaneous linguistic and academic development.

 

  • Implementing flexible scheduling to reflect real needs and obligations of high school immigrants.

How to Support ELL Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFEs) (by Kristina Robertson and Susan Lafond, Colorín Colorado)

Yes, Students with Interrupted Formal Education Can Catch Up (by Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week)

Students with Interrupted Formal Education: Best Practices (by Christine Rowland, AFT TEACH Conference)

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Debate:

Should English-language learners be given a bilingual education?

Background

The defining national debate in and surrounding this agency is over the approach to teaching non- or limited-English speakers. “Bilingual education” and “English immersion” are the two main competing methods.

 

Under civil rights law, schools have a legal obligation to ensure that minority students and students with limited English abilities have access to quality education and academic achievement.

 

In 1974, the Supreme Court established that “there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.”

 

While the government mandates that school districts take “affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students,” federal and state law does not specify the content of these “steps.” Thus, there is much debate surrounding how relevant policy is developed and implemented.

 

The debate over bilingual education centers on if and how much limited-English proficient (LEP) students’ education should include instruction in their native language. Supporters argue that competency in one’s native language provides crucial cognitive and social tools necessary for both language proficiency and general learning—and that bilingual education leads to much higher rates of  “biliteracy.” Opponents believe that early English instruction gives students a leg up and advocate minimal use of native language.

 

In the 1980s, the “English Only” bilingual opposition group gained momentum, supported by cultural conservatives who claimed bilingual education causes ethnic and racial separatism and argued for assimilationist policies. By 1988, the movement had spent nearly $18 million in 39 state campaigns to pass legislation making English the official language. Thereafter, the movement lost power, as supporters were increasingly linked to more sinister political objectives and activities—such as anti-immigration policies, population control, and eugenics.

Wikipedia on Bilingual Education

 

Aside from its blatantly racist undertones, arguments advanced by the English Only movement are attacked for be staunchly ideological, defying consistent research that demonstrated the clear advantages of bilingual education.

 

While most academics and linguists generally agreed on a more positive vision of bilingual education, media treatment of the debate was stacked in favor of the opposition. As stated in a report presented at the 1992 National Conference of the American Association of Higher Education, media coverage was overwhelmingly negative, while, “by contrast, the academic debate lines up virtually all North American applied linguists who have carried out research on language learning as advocates of bilingual programs against only a handful of academics who oppose bilingual education. None of those who oppose bilingual education has a background in the discipline of applied linguistics.”

 

Subsequent research continued to demonstrate the benefits of bilingual education over English immersion practices, but opponents attacked the underlying methodologies and claimed much leading research in the debate was outdated.

Research, Ethics, and Public Discourse: The Debate on Bilingual Education (by Jim Cummins, National Conference of the American Association of Higher Education)

Double Talk? (by Betty Ann Bowser, PBS Newshour)

The Bilingual Education Debate: Part I (by Sharon Cromwell, Education World)

Proposition 227: Anti-Bilingual Education Initiative in California

Bilingual Education Links

Landmark Court Rulings Regarding English Language Learners (by Wayne E. Wright, Colorín Colorado)

Bilingual Education: Overview and Online Resources (GreatSchools)

Debating the Efficacy of Bilingual Education Programs (by Matthew Lynch)

 

Pro (in favor of bilingual education):

Supporters insist bilingual education is a basic human and civil right for children. Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of a Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 states that “the education of the child should be directed to ... the development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values.” Article 30 states that “a child belonging to an [ethnic, religious, or linguistic minority] should not be denied the right ... to use his or her own language.”

 

In 1998, the Linguistic Society of America also affirmed this basic human right. It passed a resolution supporting the right of all U.S. residents “to have their children educated in a manner that affirmatively acknowledges their native language abilities as well as ensures their acquisition of English.”

 

Numerous studies confirm that students who receive bilingual education stay in school longer, score higher on English and other subject matter tests and have higher graduation rates, compared to those immersed in English only. English “immersion” is a sink-or-swim program, resulting in large numbers of immigrant children failing in schools, bilingual education supporters say.

Bilingual Education Under Racist Attack (Internationalist)

Bilingual Education Is A Human and Civil Right (Rethinking Schools)

Bilingual Education Attacked (by D.E. Campbell, education.com)

 

Con (opposed to bilingual education):

In a nation of immigrants, there must be a way for everyone to talk to each other. And that way is English, opponents of bilingual education argue. The English language unites America, and the elimination of bilingual education means ending the use of tax dollars to divide Americans on the basis of language or ancestry.

 

Bilingual instruction has been proven a failure. In California, such programs kept children in Spanish language instruction for up to seven years. The result was Latino students never fully mastering English, scoring poorly on tests, and being unable to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the California and U.S. economies.

 

Proposition 227, which eliminated bilingual education after one year of instruction, was a resounding success. From 1998 to 2001, Latino test scores rose in California. The percentage of Latinos with reading test scores above the 50th percentile increased from 21% to 35%. The percentage of Latinos with math test scores above the 50th percentile increased from 27% to 46%.

 

“These are cold figures,” conservative writer Michael Barone wrote. “But think for a minute of their effects on individual lives. Opportunities are being opened up for hundreds of thousands of young Americans. The effects on millions of lives—and on the quality of life in the nation as a whole—are incalculable.”

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Former Directors:

Richard Smith (Acting Director)      May 2008 – August 2010

Biography (AllGov)

 

Margarita Pinkos

Margarita Pinkos emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 16 and grew up in Palm Beach County, Florida. She earned her A.A. degree from Palm Beach Community College, and then completed undergraduate studies in zoology at Florida Atlantic University in 1975. After living in Venezuela for nine years, Pinkos returned to Florida in 1984. She began a long career with the Palm Beach County Public Schools when she was hired as an ESL teacher at Northboro Elementary School in West Palm Beach. At the same time, she began her master's in education, which she finished in 1987 at Florida Atlantic University.

 

During the 1988-89 school year, she served as the district's Haitian Project Coordinator, and in 1989, she became assistant principal at South Area High School, where she worked for four years. During the 1993-94 school year, Pinkos worked on the Area 5 Instructional team, coordinating and supporting ESL programs in 40 schools.

 

In 1994, Pinkos ran Gove Elementary School in rural Belle Glade, near Lake Okeechobee, Florida, where she spent five years. While working at Gove, she also taught education classes part-time as an adjunct faculty member at Palm Beach Community College.

 

From 1999 to 2006, Pinkos served as the executive director for the district's Multicultural Education Department. She also continued to teach education classes as an adjunct faculty member for Florida Atlantic University, while finishing her doctorate there in educational leadership in 2002.

 

Pinkos joined the Department of Education as a senior policy adviser to the secretary and deputy secretary in 2006, and was appointed as the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) acting assistant deputy secretary the next year.

 

President George W. Bush named Margarita Pinkos as assistant deputy secretary and director of the OELA on Dec. 23, 2007. She resigned in May 2008.

Official Bio

 

Kathleen Leos

On September 1, 2005, Kathleen Leos was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Department of Education’s OELA. Before her appointment, Leos had served as Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary and Senior Policy Advisor in the OELA since 2002.

 

In 1991, while serving as PTA president at her child’s elementary school, Leos, with other parents and community members from six different cultures, successfully led a movement against involuntary busing in East Dallas and advocated for the construction of two new schools in her neighborhood. Later she was a member of the Dallas Public Schools Board of Education (DISD). While serving on the Board of Education, the DISD created controversy a few times. In 1997, Leos supported the proposal that the DISD purchase an old church and convert it into a public school because of the lack of classrooms to meet the increase in Dallas’ population. In 2000, the DISD decided to privatize the Dallas public schools through a company called Edison Schools Inc. despite its failed attempt to improve schooling in Sherman, Oklahoma. That same year, Leos was policy adviser on the new education bill, No Child Left Behind, which President George W. Bush signed into law on January 8, 2002. Just one year later, Leos was appointed to the OELA, the department responsible for carrying out the No Child Left Behind Act.

 

In 1992, Leos founded the non-profit agency, Basic English Inc, which was awarded the Laura Bush First Lady Family Literacy Award in 2001. Leos also coauthored Texas’ HB 103, known as the “No Exemption Law,” which required all English language students to be included in Texas’ accountability system. Leos was director of the Dallas Services for Visually Impaired Children from 1988 to 1999.

 

Leos speaks Spanish as well as English.

Washington Post Online Chat with Kathleen Leos

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Comments

Bozo 5 years ago
The most worthless department of them all. There should be NO federal collection of tax dollars for education at this level. States are responsible for education.

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Founded: 2001
Annual Budget: $732 million (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 24 (FY 2013)
Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)
Viana, José
Director

President Trump named José Viana assistant deputy secretary of education and director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) on April 12, 2017. OELA awards federal grants to support the integration of non- or limited-English-speaking students into school systems around the country. OELA also supports professional development programs for teachers of English learners. Viana succeeds Libia Gil, who served starting in September 2013.

 

José Alejandro Viana was born September 3, 1969, in Miami. His father, also named José, was a  political prisoner under Fidel Castro for several years. The young José spoke Spanish at home, and thus started his schooling as an English language learner. He earned a B.A. in Elementary Education and Teaching at Florida International University in 1992, an M.A. in Computer Education at Barry University in Miami in 1994, and an M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administration at Florida Atlantic University in 2006.

 

Even prior to finishing his undergraduate degree, Viana was teaching in the Miami-Dade Public Schools. From 1989 to 1999, he taught English as a Second Language to third through fifth grade students, while from 1999 to 2006, he taught geography, history, and technology at Herbert Ammons Middle School, which later became an International Baccalaureate school.

 

Also during these years, Viana was an adjunct professor of Education at Florida International University from 1994 to 2002. He also spent several months in 1999 teaching English as a Second Language to advanced placement high school students in Ostuni, Italy, through Global Volunteers

 

In 2006, Viana left Florida and relocated to Durham, North Carolina, to serve as an administrator at Eno Valley Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina. He established a districtwide parent advisement committee to help ensure that low-income Latino children met academic standards.

 

After two years in Durham, Viana moved on to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, serving eight years as an administrator of the state’s Migrant Education Program, which aims to help migrant students learn despite the huge obstacles that migratory labor entails. At the same time, Viana also served as the vice-chair of the governing board for the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program.

 

In 2016, Viana taught English as a Second Language for advanced placement high school students preparing for the test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Beijing, China.

 

Viana and his wife, Aimee (Polanco), formerly senior executive director for marriage and family life in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, have three children. Viana was previously married, to Martha Beatriz Amezquita, from 1994 to 1996. Viana’s sister, Mercedes Schlapp, is a contributor to Fox News and a columnist for The Washington Times.

-Matt Bewig

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Official Biography

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Gil, Libia
Previous Director

Libia Gil, who was appointed September 9, 2013, to take over the Office of English Language Acquisition, is certainly an expert on the subject; English is the third language for the long-time educator.

 

Gil spent her early childhood in Costa Rica, where her father Jose is from, then moved to Hong Kong and subsequently Taiwan. Her mother Phoebe is from China. One of five children, Gil received her initial education in English at a Catholic school in Taiwan before coming to the United States as a teenager. Although she was by no means fluent in English, she did the translating for her parents after their move.

 

Gil earned a B.A. and an M.A. from Cal State Los Angeles and started her career as a classroom teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1970. She left there in 1972 and became a bilingual resource specialist for the ABC Unified School District in suburban Los Angeles. She subsequently became bilingual-ESL (English as a Second Language) coordinator, desegregation officer and an elementary school principal in the district.

 

Gil then moved on to the Seattle Public Schools, where she was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. While there, she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1989. In 1993, Gil was named superintendent of the Chula Vista Public Schools, near San Diego. There, she started dual language educational programs in English and Spanish in the district with a large Hispanic population.

 

Gil left Chula Vista in 2002 and undertook work in bilingual education at New American Schools, a non-profit research group that promoted designing educational programs from scratch and helped install them in public schools. In 2003, Gil was among those vying to be Seattle’s school superintendent, but took herself out of the running before the position was filled. New American Schools merged in 2005 with the American Institutes for Research, where Gil, as the organization’s managing director, developed the AIR Center for English Learners. Gil moved to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning in Chicago in 2011, becoming their vice president for practice. She held that position until joining the Department of Education.

 

Gil has three daughters.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Libia Gil: My Parents Provided Limitless Possibilities through Education (by Libia Gil, Homeroom—Department of Education)

Official Biography

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