New Tool Kit Helps English Language Learners Access Quality Education

File photo at a rally in San Diego in support of President Barack Obama’s plan to protect more than 4 million people living illegally in the U.S. from deportation in front of a church Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.Gregory Bull / AP

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By Griselda Nevarez

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice announced Monday the completion of a tool kit designed to help ensure English language learners have access to a high-quality education.

“Our work is motivated by the belief that all students—regardless of race, gender, income, disability, and English learner status—need and deserve a world-class education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

He added that the 10-chapter tool kit is a companion to guidance his department released in January that reminds schools of their obligations under federal law to serve the more than 5 million English language learners attending public schools. Across the country, English language learners make up about 10 percent of all public school students.

Each chapter of the tool kit provides resources to help educators identify, serve and fully integrate English language learners. It includes tools on how to come up with high-quality programs for English language learners and how to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs, among other tools.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who heads the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, announced the tool kit’s completion during a press event Monday at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

“As our classroom visits remind us, English learner students reflect our nation’s rich diversity and exhibit a great enthusiasm for learning,” Gupta said. “The toolkit and EL guidance equip educators with effective ways to overcome the language barriers that these students face in their quest to learn.”

The tool kit is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s efforts to expand equity and opportunity in education as it honors Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

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