English Language Learners Equal Access Education Essay

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In the Journal of educational controversy, Arias (2010) highlights a case of school degradation, linguistic segregation and access to English for Latino students. Despite the fact that Latino/Hispanic students and their families have continuously advocated for equal educational opportunities across the nation, their segregation has been steadily on increase. They have continually been denied equal educational opportunities and access to English as an integral component of learning opportunities. Bowman (2001) observes that since early 20th century; Latinos have been attending segregated schools characterized by inferior facilities, poorly qualified teachers and larger classes. Orfield and Lee (2004) note the registered increase in segregation for Latino students than any other minority group in the United States, even after the Mexican community protested inferior schooling practices through courts in 1931.

Between 1975 and 1981, over 500 school districts in the United States found to be violating civil rights of English language learners mandated bilingual education as a remedy. However, research has revealed that bilingual education has only benefited a small percentage of English language learners, with competitive grants only benefiting 500,000 English language learners out of the eligible 3.5 million English language learners countrywide. Furthermore, 75 percent of English language learners receive minimal instruction support if any in their native language (Weise and Garcia, 2001). Orfield and Lee (2004) point out that the increasing segregation of Latino students in schools and communities has limited their English learning opportunities in and out of school.

The META Consent Decree signed in 1990 was designed to provide means for English language learners to access all educational programs and receive adequate instruction to enable them pass exams. However, the META agreement has been faced with many challenges, starting from its planning to its implementation. Despite the fact that the META agreement mandates districts and individual schools to identify and provide adequate academic support for English language learners, the program is faced with the problem of reluctant and unenthusiastic teachers, with critics arguing that it targets too many groups of people at once (ESOL In-service Project, 1995). The program faces financial challenges, with many Hispanic parents arguing that they are unable to meet financial requirements of preschool ELL programs. Racial discrimination, cultural challenges and communication barriers that have continued to slow down META agreement implementation cannot be ignored (Colorado, 2008).

Federal Statutes on Equal Access to Public School Opportunities for ELL

One of the Federal statutes on equal access to public school opportunities is the federal No Child Left Behind Act 2001, which gives educational rights for English language learners and their parents. The Act places measurable goals for schools to improve educational outcomes by developing assessments in learner's Basic English language skills. The Act allows each state to set its own assertion for achievement on these skills (Vohs & PIRC).

The other federal Act advocating for equal access to public school opportunities for English language learners is the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, which advocates for equal educational opportunities and mandates educational institutions to overcome language barriers that impede equal student's participation (Equal Educational Opportunity Act 20 Usc Sec. 1703).

The two statutes advocate for the right of children to learn English and other subjects at the same academic level expected of all other students in school (Vohs & PIRC). This complies with the META requirements advocating for equal education opportunities for English language learners across the United States.

The statutes advocate for children's right to be taught by highly qualified teachers trained to teach students who are learning English, right to receive English language instruction by a licensed English second language instructor and right to participate in English learning proficiency assessment in order to assess their progress in learning of English (Vohs & PIRC).

Effective Strategies for Communication and Collaboration to Resolve School Access Challenges of ELL

The English language learners can help to resolve school access challenge by working with their peers who are English speakers and English language learners in different activities to gain exposure and meaningful goal opportunities to practice English as a medium of communication (Zehler, 1994). They should embrace cultural diversity, cooperate with their teachers and participate fully in educational programs.

The English language learners primary caretakers can be involved in learners progress by helping to boost students self esteem through encouraging them to participate in ELL programs and working with teachers and school administration to monitor the progress of learners (Colorado, 2008).

Zehler (1994) advocates for English language learners' teacher to be sensitive to unique learner's needs in order to create an instructional environment that benefits all students. An active learning instructional model for English language learners that addresses special language related needs and cultural differences should be encouraged, with instructional activities maximizing opportunities for language use, involving students as active participants and utilizing student's diversity.

The educational leaders should introduce quality pre- school programs that take into account the unique learning needs of ELLs, provide a valuable opportunity to increase literacy skills and build on educational foundation (Zehler, 1994)

Pertinent district personnel should encourage parents for potential ELLs to enroll them in preschool programs that enable them to participate in early childhood education programs. They should provide information to Hispanic parents who do not know about the existence of these programs and offer the programs at subsidized costs or for free. They should avail ELL program information in target languages for wide coverage (Colorado, 2008).

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