Hurd Joins Colleagues to Improve Educational Outcomes for English Learners

Bipartisan Bill Establishes Grant Program to Prepare Future Educators of the Growing Non-Native English-Speaking Student Population

I joined Reps. Jim Langevin (RI-02) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) to introduce a bipartisan bill to improve the education of English learners (ELs) enrolled in pre-kindergarten, elementary and secondary school programs.

The Reaching English Learners Act aims to close the academic achievement gap of EL students by funding higher education programs that train aspiring teachers to provide more effective and appropriate instruction for the non-native English-speaking student population. 

Texas is home to nearly one-fifth of our nation’s 5 million English Language learners, yet has had a shortage of teachers for these students for nearly 30 years. This bill would create a grant program to address the teacher shortage by providing funds for teacher preparation programs at local colleges and universities to train future teachers of English learners. Teachers are the foundation of our education system. By providing English learners with better prepared instructors, we increase our students’ chances of success, so they can complete their education and become valuable contributors of our workforce.

“Congressman Hurd has been a strong supporter of Hispanic Serving Institutions which provides resources to the more than 90,000 students enrolled in the five Hispanic serving colleges in the Alamo Colleges District. This legislation is another example of his commitment to education and the communities he serves,” said Dr. Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio.

“Nearly 1 in 10 pupils enrolled in Rhode Island public schools are EL students, yet unfortunately, Rhode Island is one of several states with a shortage of teachers properly trained to educate this growing subset of the student population,” said Congressman Langevin.  “As the number of EL students continues to increase across the nation, this bill will provide crucial resources to ensure the teachers of tomorrow are equipped with the necessary skills to meet their needs and help them perform at high academic levels. EL students have enormous potential, and it is our duty to provide them with the academic supports and educational opportunities they need to succeed.”

“Demographics are changing across the country and it remains critical that students learning English have the available resources and tools to support their continued growth and success,” said Congressman Espaillat. “The Reaching English Learners Act is further proof of our commitment to English Learners to help enhance their education through partnerships with institutions of higher education and local school districts to bridge the achievement gap. Now, more than ever, we must continue to invest in our teachers and students. On behalf of English Learners and our teaching workforce, I am proud to introduce this legislation with my colleagues and remain committed to the success of English Learners.”

The Department of Education reports that 32 states have a shortage of teachers for English learners, which has led to a significant academic achievement gap between English language learners and their native English-speaking peers. According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 65 percent of English-learning students graduate high school in four years, compared to the national four-year graduation rate of 83 percent. Further, 70 percent of eighth grade English learners scored “below basic” on reading proficiency, compared to 20 percent of non-English learners, while 69 percent of English learners scored “below basic” in math proficiency, compared to 24 percent of non-English learners.

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