During the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrant and linguistically diverse families have both borne the brunt of America's job losses and are overrepresented in professions that are considered essential to the country's response and recovery. Children in these households have experienced increased economic and food insecurity, instability in their child care, and trauma. Moreover, language barriers, poor digital literacy skills among parents, inequitable access to appropriate digital devices and robust internet, and lack of digital instructional resources for English learners (ELs) affected the quality of students' home learning environments during remote learning. Predictably, ELs have experienced setbacks in their English language development, academic learning, and social and emotional health due to more than a year of interrupted learning. As the pandemic recedes, schools approach normalcy, and a historic investment of federal education dollars flows to states and school districts, state education leaders face the exceptional responsibility of charting a new course for public schools and the ELs whom they serve. In this article, Julie Sugarman begins by emphasizing the need for states to provide technical assistance to schools on the use of state and federal funds and monitor whether schools used equitable shares of those funds on resources specifically tailored to EL needs. She goes on to discuss: sources of data that policymakers can access for useful information about how well schools serve ELs; ways state and school systems can ensure teacher training and professional learning for EL specialists and general classroom teachers; and strategies school districts found themselves experimenting with to inform and support ELs and their families during the pandemic.
State and Local Policy
Federal Programs and Grants