There was an op-ed written in the Boston Globe that I recently came across that was profoundly interesting and disturbing. The article, titled Boston needs legislative fix to aid English-language learners, takes a look at the situation within the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system as it relates to the lack of resources and support for the massive number of students who identify as English language learners (and their schools and teachers). As you can tell by the article title, the author believes that the BPS has failed the needs of the nearly 33% of ALL Boston school kids who are ELL. (That number is staggering as that means over 19,000 students fall into this category). Notably, that the failure stemmed from the passage of a ballot initiative over a decade ago that restricted English language education to "Sheltered Immersion", which is described as "a method that focuses on teaching academic content in English, limiting the help students can receive in their native language."
The article is an interesting opinion piece on the legislation (approved by voters) that got the BPS to where it is today and thoughts on the legislation that will get it out. But one thing is for sure - these kids needs help today as "49 percent of English learners in Boston’s secondary-level education are receiving not enough specialized instruction, or none at all". And that particular statistic is the most heart wrenching of all in the piece. Not only do these kids have a very steep hill to climb to overcome this lack of English language preparation AND lack of academic language comprehension, but the educators that must support them absolutely need the tools and resources to help these kids get the education they deserve.
Lack of educational opportunity for ELL kids not only affects BPS, but also many more parts of the United States. In order for us to compete in an ever globalized economy, this situation can't be status quo.