More funds needed to teach English language learners, group says

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A statewide advocacy group for educators, school administrators and parents is asking for a new $75 million budget line dedicated to helping English language learners in New York state.

The group also wants the Legislature to change funding for BOCES aid and Special Services Aid to further help the ELL program. New York’s public schools have more than 213,000 English language learners in the system, mostly in New York City, but in districts across the state as well.

The ECB — which is comprised of teachers, parents, administrators, school board members and superintendents — is also recommending that school districts be given flexibility when choosing teachers to help ELL students. The group is also proposing changes in teacher prep programs to provide new pathways for bilingual education teachers to obtain certification.

Educational Conference Board Chairman John Yagielski said these proposals would help students whose first language is not English to succeed and have more access.