This comes from a very informative - and thought provoking - article of the same title that probes the fact that "English learning is a growing part of early learning". You can see the article here Are English Learners Neglected in Early Education. We've seen recently that the issues experienced in the New York city and San Antonio school systems have bitten other school systems quite hard - and in the pocket book. Notably the Boston Public School system which has incurred fines from the Department of Justice for not better preparing their ELL students upon graduation.
Helping kids that are English language deficient early in their education careers helps to prepare them much better for more rigorous academics as they reach grade levels where these skills are crucial. Seeing some of the data (from mountains of it) presented in this article really puts some perspective on the challenges not only facing ELL students but also the educators that must teach them, the schools that are responsible for them and the districts that must support all of these stakeholders.
About 10 percent of all American children in kindergarten through 12th grade are considered English language learners. In Head Start programs, the number is almost one in three - Conor Williams, a senior researcher at the New America Education Policy Program.
The task of bringing this many students (10% of American school children in K-12 is about 5 million) to English proficiency is monumental - and starting early is key. It's going to take an effort that includes legislators of all stripes, school administrators, educators, parents and many more to tackle not to mention money. Funding for English education, and early English education, is there with current budgets and future requested budgets at an all time high.
Hopefully we can close the achievement gap for these kids and improve their opportunity to get the most from their education - and for the US to benefit from students who are English and academic language proficient.