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State Assembly Committee on Education Met to Discuss English Language Learners

The New York State Assembly Committee on Education met Monday morning to examine and study existing and new ways to support and improve the academic success of English Language Learner or ELL students in New York State's school districts.

Almost 9% of the states 2.6 million public school students are ELL's and they speak over 200 languages.

Assembly member Ron Kim referenced his own English language learning journey, and asked how quality control of ELL teachers will be determined.

"To not just be taught the test and told you have to just memorize the alphabet and just regurgitate this. But really, a teacher that cares enough to connect my culture and how it’s assimilating to our community."

Assembly member Anthony Brindisi of Utica not only touched on language learning, but adapting to a new culture in general as an issue the state should think about when moving forward with students.

"It’s a challenge getting used to acclimating yourself to the school district. For many of them, who have to travel to a separate building to go to BOCES to utilize BOCES services, that sometimes presents a challenge, it’s a strange building that they’re not used to."

Other issues brought up included a wide diversity in languages needing to be accommodated, an increase in refugee and immigrant students, and funding for these programs, said Brindisi.

"Schools need to offer high quality bilingual programs but that does present a challenge when you’re looking at state funding that has been dwindling in terms of your higher needs school districts that rely heavily on the state for funding."

In the last 3 years, English language learning students in the state have increased from 72,000 to 84,000.