Obama Admin Issues Guidelines Emphasizing Civil Rights of English Learners


On Wednesday, the Obama administration released new guidelines specifically emphasizing “the civil rights of students learning English as a second language.”

According to the Washington Post, “the new guidance is the first in 24 years to address the rights of English learners and comes 40 years after the Supreme Court ruled that schools must provide targeted help for them.”

In an open letter to educators that was “signed by Catherine E. Lhamon, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, acting assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Justice Department,” the Obama administration declared that “it is crucial to the future of our nation that these students, and all students, have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.”

As the Post noted, schools, the Obama administration emphasized, are required to “provide English learners with language programs led by qualified teachers, integrate English learners as much as possible into mainstream classrooms and communicate with parents in a language they understand.”

As Breitbart News has reported, “U.S.-born children who are struggling to speak English outnumber foreign-born kids,” according to an Education Writers Association report.

As the report, which suggests that “students born in America may not be assimilating as quickly as those from past generations, noted, “the disadvantages that come with not being proficient in English are ‘cumulative’ in nature and may put these students in the so-called funnel of failure early in life”:

According to a Migration Policy study based on 2012 Census data, ‘the overall percentage for 6-to-21-year-olds enrolled in a K-12 program who were born outside of the United States is 4.7 percent, or 2.37 million students.’ But a whopping 9.1% of U.S.-born students are not proficient in English, according to the Department of Education’s 2013 data.

The Washington Post estimated that “there are about 5 million English-language learners in the United States, or about 9 percent of all public school students, and the number is increasing.” Meanwhile, “the number of civil rights complaints concerning English learners” is increasing as well, according to the Education Department, which “has received more than 475 such complaints since 2009 and has 60 active investigations in 26 states.”