December 15, 2006

Children With Limited English Proficiency Being Left Behind Again, Says New GEO Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After nearly five years of the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law, many states are still not receiving the funding they need in order to serve Limited English Proficiency students. According to a new report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Education is using flawed data to distribute funds to states for the education of English language learners. Using the most accurate data for allocating funds is the Department of Education’s responsibility. The GAO report cites that four years after the approval of No Child Left Behind, the Department of Education has not developed a working methodology to determine which data is most accurate.

The report, which was prepared at the request of Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), George Miller (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and released by the Hispanic Caucus on Dec. 7, also shows that states, which are required to reserve up to 15% of their Title III funds for schools experiencing a significant increase in immigrant children—most of which are non-English students—are only reserving 0 to 8%. 

“It is time for us to roll up our sleeves and get to work – in partnership with the administration, with states, with local school districts, and with our community to keep our No Child Left Behind promise to English language learners,” said Hinojosa. 

Congress must ensure sufficient funding and more focused oversight of No Child Left Behind Act. Limited English Proficient students must be provided the necessary tools to move into the mainstream in schools and to graduate, not drop out, so they can become productive adults in our society,” said Napolitano.

“Members of Congress want to know why the Department of Education has failed in their responsibility of getting the needed funds to our children and what they are going to do to change this broken system,” said Grijalva.

This is the second report issued by the GAO with regards to NCLB and LEP children. The first report outlined the Department of Education’s lack of guidance to states in meeting the assessment requirements of average yearly progress and language acquisition stated in the NCLB.

The lack of attention by the Department of Education to vigorously implement the law for Limited English Proficiency children means that we are 5 years behind in ensuring that limited English students fully benefit from No Child Left Behind.

According to the GAO, there were 5 million children with limited English proficiency enrolled in U.S. public schools during the 2003-04 school year. Those children made up about 10 percent of total enrollment. They speak over 400 languages; 80 percent of them speak Spanish.  

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