Letter to Sen. Clinton and Rep. Honda in support of the Strengthening Communities through Education and Integration Act
July 24, 2008
Dear Senator Clinton and Representative Honda:
On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our support for the Strengthening Communities through Education and Integration Act. We thank you both for your leadership in introducing this important legislation, which will make a real difference in enhancing English proficiency for both children and adults.
According to the Census Bureau, over 19 percent of the population (54.8 million) speaks a language other than English at home. Over the past 15 years, English language learner (ELL) student enrollment has nearly doubled and experts predict that one quarter of the total U.S. public school population will be made up of ELLs by 2025. ELL students present a growing educational challenge for our public schools. For example, in the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 29 percent of ELL students scored at or above the basic level of reading, compared with 75 percent of non-ELLs.
Given this need, we are pleased that your bill will:
- Provide additional investments for programs such as the Even Start Family Literacy Program;
- Enhance recruitment and retention of ELL teachers through a tax credit; and
- Establish a grant program for middle and high schools to provide additional learning time for ELL students.
We also strongly support provisions that would invest new resources in adult education and literacy and employee training programs. Increasing adult literacy and fluency in English is critical to helping adults further their education and ensuring their financial stability as well as maximizing the academic success of children in those households.
We thank you both again for your work on this issue. We look forward to continuing to work with you to secure passage of this important legislation.
Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations
Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy