January 7, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Education Week's Quality Counts 2009 Report
Education Week's Quality Counts 2009 report focuses on students for whom English is a second language, known as English language learners.
WASHINGTON—The Quality Counts 2009 report shows that, with the exception of efforts in early childhood education, states are not making progress in assisting English language learners (ELLs) or their teachers.
Current federal education law fails to provide the supports or resources to make proficiency a reality for most of these students, and even requires them to take tests in English-a language that many still do not understand. As Congress prepares to rework the law, we urge them to secure more resources for ELL programs, and to replicate successful examples such as the International High Schools in New York and California, which help our ELLs achieve and graduate from high school prepared for college. The law also should allow ELLs to take tests in their native language until they achieve English proficiency.
The AFT has taken a proactive approach to assist ELLs and their teachers and families who are helping them learn. In partnership with WETA-TV, a Washington, D.C.-based public television station, the AFT has helped develop Colorín Colorado, www.colorincolorado.org, a nationwide initiative providing a wide array of free resources and workshops with information, activities and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.