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Increase ESL student/teacher ratios for ESL & ELL students. Require schools to have ESL instructional plans in place with guidelines for instructional time based on LEP Levels.

This petition had 220 supporters


We adopted 3 boys from Ukraine a few months ago, and when we enrolled them in our local school district, we expected that they would receive ESL services to the tune of a few hours a day each week because they did not speak or read any English.  What we have learned is rather upsetting.  Currently the state of VA requires school districts to have 1 ESL teacher for every 58.8 ESL students.  This law seems to be rather open to interpretation, so lets say if a school district has for example, 4 elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school with 58 students spread over the entire county in all of these schools; this is only allowing for a child to have a designated 30 minute block each week in a group setting.  This is simply unacceptable.  What we have learned is that there are children in our school district who do not have English speaking parents to advocate for them to get the ESL instructional time that they need.   Can you imagine trying to learn a new language and navigate your education as a non-English speaking child with only 30 minutes of ESL instruction each week?    Schools should have ESL guidelines for enrolling, assessing, and educating ESL students to ensure that language barriers impeding academic achievement in the classroom are addressed so that these students can learn English while being taught grade level content in a way they can understand it. The State of VA should be focusing on children who speak English as a second languge by providing additional ESL instructional time because these children are part of this state's future.  The goal should be to really focus on those children who's main struggle is simply the language barrier by teaching them to read and speak English.  As a parent of 3 newly adopted boys from Ukraine, having spent months researching ESL law, I have found the ESL requirements in the state of Virginia to be lacking.  My 3 boys are at the lowest level for an English Language Learner, as Level 1 LEP students, and most weeks they are getting zero minutes with an ESL teacher due to lack of accountability or enforcement of ESL requirements.  Stricter enforcement of current standards, more oversight and accountability, and more aggressive instructional requirements for every ESL child are imperative to help non-English speaking children in the Commonwealth of Virginia learn English and achieve academic excellence.  We are a nation of immigrants, a great melting pot of cultures.  We should look at the ESL programs in our schools as a way to discover and encourage talents in children that will grow up to become our future.  Our goal with this petition is not only to get the services that our boys deserve, but to also be a voice for those who have none and get the services that every child deserves.   

 

**Update**

After filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights Division in the Department of Education, an investigation was opened and our school district agreed to an early settlement.  While things are improving here, we've learned just how abyismal ESL services are in rural counties all over VA.  This should not be so.  Our county orginially said there were only 58 ESL students.  After going through steps to properly identify ESL students, there are now 110.  That might not seem like much, but every one of those children was not receiving an appropriate education.  Parents shouldn't have to go through what we did just to get their children an education.  Its time for the state of VA to step up and take a closer look at how our schools are teaching children that come here speaking another language.



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