Langevin, Espaillat Lead Call for Additional Support for English Learners as Part of COVID-19 Relief

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) sent a letter to House leadership calling for additional support for English learners in future COVID-19 relief legislation. In their letter, which was signed by 27 of their colleagues, they request an additional $1 billion for Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The letter notes that, amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, the approximately 5 million English learners (ELs), who account for 10 percent of all public-school students, face even greater challenges that may hinder achievement.

“We have heard from our constituents that educators have had difficulty providing high-quality distance instruction to their EL students. While many states, schools, and teachers are going to great lengths to try to support these students, they have encountered obstacles on several fronts, from a dearth of technology in EL students’ homes to inadequate training of the teachers,” the members of Congress wrote.

Data indicates that the English learner student population continues to grow, but assessments show that they often lag behind their peers in math and reading proficiency levels. The high school graduation rate for English learners is also below that of native-English speaking students nationwide. Targeted support for these students, their educators and families will help improve their educational outcomes and close the achievement gap.

“Title III of the ESEA is the only federal funding source dedicated to supporting ELs, their teachers, and families. Title III funds can be used for language instruction education programs, teacher professional development, and other activities to increase parent, family, and community engagement, as well as for acquiring or developing educational technology and accessing online networks,” continues the letter. “Providing an additional $1 billion for Title III will allow states to meet the needs of their EL students and families while providing teachers with the resources they need to provide high-quality instruction and mitigate the loss of learning during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Full text of the letter.

Cosigners of the letter include Representatives: Jim Langevin (D-RI), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Adam Smith (D-WA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), David E. Price (D-NC), Grace Meng (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-IL), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Darren Soto (D-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Harley Rouda (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA).