Changes in Hillsborough County Schools Impacts English Language Learners’ Equity

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Is there equity for English Language Learners in HCPS?

 

According to Hillsborough County School’s own website, the district serves over “45,000 students who speak over 104 different languages and represent nearly 200 different countries.” https://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/list/english-language-learners/documents-forms/68-346/

 

The district also claims “Each of these students has a story to tell and a personal history as diverse as the countries and cultures they represent”. Yet to what extent are ELL families’ voices being solicited and valued?

 

In the midst of other changes happening with COVID, a decision was made by the district to take Language Development classes away from ELLs. The letter asks for these classes to be brought back. The decision was made without parental, educator, or other stakeholders’ input to place all ELLs, including those who just arrived to the country and know zero English, into Intensive Reading classes.

 

Intensive Reading classes often mix general education students and “newcomer” ELLs. Very few schools are now offering these basic language classes that teach the most vulnerable ELLs acculturation, basic English, and how to read for different kinds of subject areas. Without DLA (Developmental Language Arts) classes, ELLs will feel even more overwhelmed and not have supports that have traditionally been in place for several years in the district.

 

Recently, a letter was sent to school board members and the superintendent signed by ESOL Resource Teachers, school counselors, and bilingual paraprofessionals – all who have direct relationships with ELL families – asking for a number of changes that will benefit one of the district’s most vulnerable populations.

The district has done little to seek out the voice or support of ELLs, their families, or community stakeholders.

 

We need more Latino and immigrant voices. Make sure you share and give our families a voice!

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