ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality

sprouting-tomato-plant

The New York Times wrote yesterday in Beyond Black and White, New Force Reshapes South

The states with the highest growth in the Latino population over the last decade are in the South, which is also absorbing an influx of people of all races moving in from other parts of the country.

This figure from the Urban Institute exhibits the rapid growth of immigration across the US:

growth

As would be expect from the map above, seven of the ten highest growth states for English Language are located in a red swath across the South (unsure why Ohio’s number is so inflated in the CCD data).

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We took notice of the growth in the South in our upcoming book chapter:

Vasquez Heilig, J,. Lopez, F., & Torre, D. (in press). Examining teacher quality, educational policy and English Learners in Latina/o growth states. In S. Horsford and C. Wilson (Eds.), A nation of students at risk: Advancing equity and achievement in America’s diversifying schools. New York: Routledge.

We don’t yet have a proof of the chapter yet, but here is a teaser:

Over the past several decades the United States has witnessed a dramatic growth of culturally and linguistically diverse students (e.g., García & Frede, 2010). From 1980 to 2011, the percentage of students speaking a language other than English at home has doubled from 10 to 20% (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). As the English learner (EL) population has grown, the gap between their academic achievement and that of their English proficient peers remains stubbornly static across numerous indicators including achievement scores (NCES, 2010) and high school completion rates (NCELA, 2011).

Extant policies (López, McEneaney, Nieswandt, & Geronime, 2012) and teacher preparation programs (e.g., Darling-Hammond, 2010) alike are failing to address the pressing need to ensure equitable educational opportunities for ELs. Namely, “policy initiatives or legislative mandates” that constrain or forbid bilingual programs, “inadequate resources,” and a lack of “institutional will” (Garcia, Jensen, & Scribner, 2009, p. 12) are obstacles preventing educators from entering the classroom adequately prepared to meet the needs of ELs. For example, ELs continue to be disproportionately taught by less qualified teachers then their English-speaking peers (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008; Darling-Hammond, 2010).

Over half of all ELs are concentrated in just three states—California, Texas, and Florida (Vasquez Heilig, 2011). However, many other states such as Alabama and Arkansas have experienced rapid growth rates in their EL populations (See Table 1). Despite this growth, educational policy research related to ELs tends to be restricted to states with the largest populations of ELs. Considering together the lack of qualified teachers trained to enhance the educational experiences of this population with their growing representation

The change in demographics is not only happening in the South, but also Oregon… yes. Oregon.

oregon ells

NPR’s LatinoUSA (You can check out my prior appearance on the show here) recently aired a segment entitled Bienvenidos a Woodburn:

The increase in Latino populations throughout many U.S. communities in the past two decades may be old news. But in states like Oregon, the change is very recent and very dramatic. Producer Dmae Roberts brings us a portrait of a town transformed in the Beaver state. Woodburn is now 60% Latino, the highest proportion in the state.

Oregon education officials and educators are pivoting to address these rapidly changing demographics. In fact, the growth of English Learner students in Oregon schools was greater between the 2000 and 2010 Census counts than Texas (36% growth versus 29%), a traditional destination for English Learner students. It was in this context that I was hired as a keynote speaker for the 39th Annual Conference set June 19-21 in Seaside, Oregon of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.

You can view my public Prezi of the Keynote here. This presentation was of course designed with Oregon data in mind, but can be tailored for your district or association to discuss closing the achievement gap for EL students via the transformational power of policy, access, and equality.

The Prezi is based on the new book chapter examining teacher quality for ELs in growth states discussed above,  Understanding the interaction between high-stakes graduation tests and English language learners and Community-Based Accountability.

The Keynote concluded:

For the U.S. to remain a global competitor, we must remake our educational policy based on empiricism rather than “gut feelings”— rethink the arguments underlying high-stakes testing and accountability— our nation’s rapid demographic changes require this. Our communities, our parents, our educators, our ELs, must be seen as the solution rather than the problem.

Finally, I have travelled to 45 states and 52 countries and the beauty of Oregon is clearly one of our nation’s best kept secrets. A few photos:

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Categories: Accountability, Community-Based Accountability, English Language Learners, High-Stakes Testing

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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6 Comments on “ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality”

  1. March 31, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    I see Florida was not included in the the study’s statistics. Any particular reason? Not enough Latinos/Hispanics in Florida back in 2010 compared to the other states? Just curious.

    • March 31, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      We were focusing on states with the most growth. California, Texas, Florida, and New York have the largest total numbers of Els, but surprisingly other states have had the largest growth between the 2000 and 2010 census counts.

      • March 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

        Makes sense. But now in 2014 things might be different. There is a new diaspora from PR that is coming to Florida. We’ll see.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality | Cloaking Inequity ← NPE News Briefs - June 26, 2013

    […] Click here to read the entire post and view the graphs via ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality | Cloaking Inequity. […]

  2. ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality | Cloaking Inequity ← NPE News Briefs - June 26, 2013

    […] Click here for the entire post and to view the graphs via ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality | Cloaking Inequity. […]

  3. Happy Birthday!: A Conversation About Education With César E. Chávez | Cloaking Inequity - March 31, 2014

    […] Also see: ELs: Transformational power of policy, access, and equality […]

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