PHOENIX, AZ — Last Thursday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1014 into law, reinventing the landscape for students to learn English faster. This bill gives local school districts greater flexibility to teach students with strategies, schedules, and tools that best meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs).
For nearly two decades, English Language Learners have been isolated from core classes. As a result, according to the state’s report card, ELL students scored below all other subgroups on the statewide assessment, in every grade level and subject area, including students with special needs.
The new law will now allow ELL students to spend more time interacting with native speakers to help them learn English faster. Prior to the passing of this legislation, ELL students were required to take part in four-hour blocks of language isolation. With this change, the requirements moves to a two hour minimum, giving expert educators the opportunity to tailor schedules to the needs of their students.
“This is a huge step for our students in Arizona who are struggling to learn English. They have been trapped in these programs year after year,” Rebecca Gau, executive director of the advocacy group Stand for Children Arizona, said. “Despite the countless setbacks in previous legislative sessions, we never gave up on our ELL students. Despite many people telling us that we couldn’t change a law that had been in place for nearly two decades, we continued to challenge the status quo because we knew that it was hurting our schools.”
Claudia Salas, a parent affected by these policies, said, “I felt helpless. I knew that my daughter was falling behind in school because of the ELL requirements, but I felt like I couldn’t do anything.” Salas continued, “I talked to teachers and they told me that they understood my concerns but that I had to keep my daughter in the program. While my daughter is no longer in the ELL program, I know that it hurt her academically. I am happy to see this new law go into effect and believe that it will help families like mine.”
Rebecca Gau and Claudia Salas are available for interviews.
About Stand for Children
Stand for Children is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability.