On July 12, 2017, the California State Board of Education unanimously adopted new policy for educating California’s 1.3 million English Learners (ELs) by approving an English Learner Roadmap. As stated in the approved Board Item, “This policy is intended to assist the California Department of Education in providing guidance to local educational agencies (LEAs) in welcoming, understanding, and educating the diverse population of students who are English learners attending California public schools. Many English learners represent the newest members of our society (including recently arrived immigrants and children of immigrants) who bring a rich diversity of cultural backgrounds and come from families with rich social and linguistic experiences. They also bring skills in their primary languages that contribute enormously to the state’s economic and social strengths as a talented multilingual and multicultural population.”
The next step for the state is to develop guidance materials and resources for implementation of the policy that will be web-based and include successful practices that district will contribute and be able share statewide.
Laurie Olsen, Co-Chair of the work group that developed the EL Roadmap, researcher and EL expert, concluded her remarks to the State Board of Education members saying,
“I want to take a moment to mark what I believe is a historic moment. It is a turning away from what has been an English-Only and deficit oriented approach to educating English Learners, a turn away from watered down and narrowed curriculum and from marginalizing English Learners. But the Roadmap is not just about ending an era. It is also about breaking new ground and setting us on the road towards asset-based schooling that embraces the language and cultures of our students and towards providing solidly research-based, coherent and comprehensive programs for the 1.3 million English Learners in our schools. And in so doing, our California roadmap will also offer a vision, a beacon and an example to the rest of the nation about what it means to honor equity, ensure meaningful access and embrace our wonderfully diverse population.”
For information on the English Learner Road Map and updates on resources and guidance documents as they are developed go to: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/rm/