I am a senior at GEO next generation which is a charter school on the East side of Indianapolis. I am also an English Language Learning (ELL) student and I hope to see funding for ELL students like me increased this year during the budget session. ACT NOW.
When I was in 3rd grade, I was held back a year due to not knowing English. There was not a lot of ELL help for me during this time and my parents didn’t know a lot of English so I didn’t have any help.
To learn English, I had to learn it slowly. If I would have had extra help, perhaps I wouldn’t have been held back and I would have already graduated. This would make my life now so much easier because I am not just an ELL student but also a full-time employee working twelve-hour shifts to pay rent and help my family keep our home.
My mom, sister, and I are alone here in Indiana, and we have gone through many hard times, especially during COVID because my mom got very sick and lost her job. I had to drop out of school for a while so that I could work three jobs because we were kicked out of our house.
I am one example, but many ELL students I know are juggling more than just their education and we don’t always have enough resources and support in our schools.
This year, I do have an amazing ELL teacher, Ms. B, and I am grateful for her. She truly believes in me and has taught me about passing the WIDA test and how important it is for me to advocate for not only myself but all students that are like me. I wish I would have met Ms. B when I was in 3rd grade. Our community needs more teachers like her. Which is why we need to be able to pay for quality teachers like her. Yet, Indiana is still underfunding SPED, ELL and low-income students.
I plan to both email key lawmakers and go to the statehouse to share my story. I hope my efforts will result in more funding for students who are learning English, students who are in special education and students who come from low-income households.
I hope that one day, schools are funded in a way that allows students like me to get the supports we need and have teachers like Ms. B. I don’t want my little sister or any other student to face being held back and go through what I have.