Governor Lamont Proposes Establishing the English Learners’ Bill of Rights To Safeguard the Provision of Bilingual Education
(BRIDGEPORT, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today held a news conference in Bridgeport to announce that he has submitted a legislative proposal to the Connecticut General Assembly establishing the English Learners’ Bill of Rights in Connecticut state statutes to make it clear to students, parents and guardians, educators, and school administrators the rights of English learners to receive a quality education in Connecticut public schools.
English learners are students who have been identified as having a dominant language other than English.
“I believe there is nothing more important to a child’s education than an engaged and supportive parent or guardian, and the English Learners’ Bill of Rights will guarantee that they have the information necessary to do so,” Governor Lamont said. “Several weeks ago, a group of parents, students, legislators, and advocates held an event outside my office to propose the creation of this law and explain its importance. After hearing their stories and the importance of this bill to their families, I understood. Their voices were heard in my office, and I hope we can all hear them.”
“In Connecticut, more than 50% of our student population now identifies as non-white. Additionally, more than 45,000 or 8.8% of our students are identified as English learners. This is why an English Learners’ Bill of Rights is so important at this time,” Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said. “The Connecticut State Department of Education thanks the governor for introducing this legislation as it further solidifies our historical commitment to ensuring educational access and equity. It is imperative that we empower all of our English learners and families across the state to be active and engaged members of our school community.”
The legislation directs the State Board of Education to draft a written English Learners’ Bill of Rights that clearly and succinctly compiles existing federal and state laws and requirements that safeguard and protect the provision of bilingual education. This bill of rights must include, but not be limited to:
- The right of an English learner student to attend public school regardless of immigration status;
- The right of an English learner student to have a translator present at critical interactions with teachers and administrators, such as parent-teacher conferences and meetings with administrators;
- The right of an English learner student to participate in a program of bilingual education when there are 20 or more eligible students classified as dominant in a language other than English;
- The right of a parent or guardian of an English learner student to receive written notice, in both English and their dominant language, that such student is eligible to participate in a program of bilingual education;
- The right of an English learner student and their parent or guardian to receive a high-quality orientation session in their dominant language;
- The right of the parent or guardian of an English learner student to receive information about the progress of such student’s English language development and acquisition and meet with school personnel to discuss these matters;
- The right of an English learner student to be placed in a program of bilingual education or English as a new language, if offered by the school district;
- The right of an English learner student to have equal access to all grade-level school programming and all core grade-level subject matter;
- The right of an English learner student to receive annual language proficiency testing;
- The right of an English learner student to receive support services aligned with any intervention plan that the school or school district provides to all students;
- The right of an English learner student to be continuously and annually enrolled in a program of bilingual education or English as a new language while such student remains an eligible student; and
- The right of a parent or guardian of an English learner student to contact the State Department of Education with any questions or concerns about such student’s right to receive English learner services or accommodations.
Additionally, the legislation requires that each local and regional board of education providing a program of bilingual education or English as a new language provide the parents and guardians of eligible students with a copy of the English Learners’ Bill of Rights in the dominant language of such parents and guardians, and make these documents available online.
The legislation is House Bill 6663, An Act Establishing the English Learners’ Bill of Rights. It currently being considered by the Education Committee.
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