California Association for Bilingual Education and Pearson Announce 'Bill of Rights' for California's English Language Learners 

Call to Action for Meeting Needs of State's Most Vulnerable Students

by Impact Wire Tuesday, February 24, 2009
At today's opening of The California Association for Bilingual Education's (CABE) Annual Conference, the education company Pearson and CABE announced an "English Learners' Bill of Rights" to focus public attention on the increasing needs of the booming California student population whose first language is not English. Today, 25 percent or 1.6 million California students are English learners and that number is growing every day. Unfortunately, the number of English learners dropping out of school is growing every day too.

CABE officials say promoting a "Bill of Rights" will draw much-needed attention to the magnitude of the challenges facing today's English learners and ensure that meeting their needs remains a priority during the state's budget crisis.

"There is a wealth of research on how best to educate English learners. We now know what we need to do to help these students succeed in school. Among the essential elements of success for English Learners are: teachers with training on how to work with second language learners; assessments that provide information for instruction; and materials that cover the full academic content, aligned with standards and that can readily be adapted to meet their instructional needs. These elements, however, are now threatened by decisions being made to decimate funding for education," said Karling J. Aguilera-Fort, President of CABE.

He added, "For the past 10 years, we have seen the achievement gap for English learners steadily widening. If we don't address this problem now, we are looking at a situation that will ultimately create an even bigger economic impact on our state than what we are facing today. We need to create a workforce for the future. We need to make sure every child graduates from high school. We need to prepare them for college. We need appropriate educational materials, as well as assessment tools and professional development for teachers who will work with our English learners. These are essential requirements if these students hope to have a chance for success in our 21st century economy."

Pearson's Director of English Learning for California Jesus Cervantes, who collaborated with CABE in drafting the "English Learners' Bill of Rights," said, "These children are trying valiantly to learn English at the same time they are required to master their reading, math and science courses. If we don't help these students now, they will continue on the same slippery slope as so many of their brothers and sisters before them, who may have dropped out of school as they failed in their struggle to keep up with their English-speaking peers. We are committed to breaking the cycle and that is why we are issuing the 'English Learners' Bill of Rights' with CABE."

Chair of the Senate Education Committee, State Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), applauded the Bill of Rights' goal of bringing awareness to the needs of English learners.

"Education is the civil rights issue of our time," said Romero, who is speaking at CABE's annual conference this week. "This is especially true for California's most vulnerable students, our children who are trying to learn how to speak English at the same time they are learning their subjects in school. We need to do everything we can do help them succeed."

The CABE-Pearson "English Learners' Bill of Rights" offers eight specific guiding principles:

English Learners benefit from a learning environment in which they feel respected, safe and secure.

English Learners should be treated equitably in terms of time spent meeting their individual needs.

English Learners benefit from focused instruction from teachers who have specialized training and understanding necessary to effectively teach students whose first language is not English.

English Learners benefit from curriculum and instructional materials that are academically challenging, possess age-appropriate content, and include subject matter that is at grade level; this includes culturally responsive methodologies and materials.

English Learners benefit from access to instructional materials that make the necessary accommodations for the varying levels of English proficiency.
English Learners benefit from being taught in a way that allows them to maintain their native language to be able to transfer and apply knowledge of their native language and culture to the study of English.

English Learners benefit from attending schools with the resources and expertise necessary to meet their needs.

English Learners benefit from the involvement of their parents in their education -- this essential ingredient for closing the achievement gap should be fostered.

With this document, Pearson and CABE have pledged to lead a larger campaign to close the achievement gap for English learners, and will be reaching out to public officials, the education community, citizen organizations, and parents across the state.

"Many of our California educators already understand the importance of translating these concepts into the classroom," said Aguilera-Fort. "We applaud them and encourage others to remember these principles as they try to balance tight budgets with tackling the diverse needs of this growing student population."

Dr. Roberto Salinas, President of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA), said: "We strongly support the English Learners' Bill of Rights and its goal of bringing more awareness to the importance of ensuring success for our Latino children." He added, "Today, two out of three elementary school students in California are English learners. More than 50 percent of them are dropping out of school. This number is staggering, totally unacceptable and will have disastrous repercussions for our state. We should all be laser focused on doing all we can to help these children learn English and graduate from high school. At CALSA we will do all we can to promote the Bill of Rights for English Learners."

Pearson and CABE look forward to working with state officials, local educators and the English learner community to help this growing segment of the student population become successful in school and in life.

Click here (http://www.californiareading.com/media/pdf/billofrights.pdf) for a printable copy of the "English Learners' Bill of Rights" (English and Spanish versions).

For more information visit www.bilingualeducation.org and www.californiareading.com

About The California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE)

CABE is a non-profit organization incorporated in 1976 to promote bilingual education and quality educational experiences for all students in California. CABE has 5,000 members with over 60 chapters/affiliates, all working to promote equity and student achievement for students with diverse cultural, racial, and linguistic backgrounds. CABE recognizes and honors the fact that we live in a rich multicultural, global society and that respect for diversity makes us a stronger state and nation.

About Pearson in California

Pearson, the world's leading education publisher, has been providing education materials to California schools as far back as the 1800s. You may know us individually as Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Longman, SuccessMaker, NovaNet, Educational Measurement, Educational Assessment, Learning Teams, Achievement Solutions, and so many more - names in the world of education that are recognized and respected across the State and the globe. In fact, most teachers in California have learned their profession by studying with Pearson's Merrill or Allyn & Bacon textbooks, and many have benefited from our professional development programs. Today, nearly a thousand Pearson people are living and working in the State, providing educational materials that cover the gamut from birth through professional learning. Whether in English learning, reading and language arts, science, math, social studies, music, foreign languages, or AP courses, hundreds of thousands of California's preK-12 students are learning with our Pearson products every day. Like California's educators, we are unwavering in our commitment to our children. The challenges of today's economy will not deter us from our mission to create innovative educational solutions customized to align with California's new standards for 21st century learning. For more information, visit www.californiareading.com.

Contact:

Pearson - Stevan Allen - stevan@allenstrategic.com - 916.448-1336
CABE - Maria S. Quezada - maria@bilingualeducation.org - 626.814.4441
Pearson - Kate Miller - kate.miller@pearson.com - 800-745-8489

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