Implicationsof Equal Protection for K-12 Students within Classifications Based onEnglish Language Learners
Legal issues Presented by the Classification
Thefollowing legal issues have formed the basis for equal protection forK-12 Students within classifications based on English languagelearners:
TitleVI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
TitleVI prohibits any form of discrimination on the grounds of the nationof origin, color or race by all persons receiving federal assistance(Archerd, 2013). The guidelines under Title VI are construed tooutlaw denial of equal education to minority students with limitedEnglish proficiency (Archerd, 2013).
TitleVII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968
TheBilingual Education Act distinguishes that non-English speakingstudents face distinctive educational difficulties compared to nativestudents. The Bilingual Education act establishes federal policies toprovide needed assistance to educational institutions and agenciesthat serve students with limited proficiency in English deficiency(Clark, 2016). The Bilingual Education Act was re-authorized in 1994 as part of theimprovements made in the America`s Schools Act.
U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare – May 25Memorandum (1970)
Thismemorandum gave a clarification on the responsibility of districtschools with respect to national origin minority students (Tannern& Indiana, 2012).The memorandum required districts to take affirmative steps wheneverthe inability of a student to speak and understand English excludes astudent from taking part effectively in education programs (Tannern& Indiana, 2012).
SupremeCourt – Lau v. Nichols (1974)
TheSupreme Court provided a ruling stating that merely providing allstudents with same facilities, teachers, textbooks, and curriculadoes not amount to equality in the provision of educationalopportunities (Deveaux,2013).The court backed the reasoning by stating that students who do notunderstand English are excluded from meaningful education. (Deveaux,2013).
SupremeCourt – Plyler v. Doe (1982)
TheSupreme Court ruled that States are not allowed to deny free publiceducation to undocumented immigrant children (Welner,2006).The court declared that schools are not agents for enforcingimmigration law. The court further ruled that the argument thatundocumented students place a lot of burden on the education systemis unfounded (Welner,2006).
TitleIII of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act of 2001NoChild Left Behind – Public Law 107-110
TheNo Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal mandate hold local educationalagencies, schools, and state educational agencies accountable for theacquisition of English language proficiency and core academiclanguage for students with limited English proficiency (Linn &Welner, 2007).
What Equal Protection Requires
Equalprotection requires that where the inability to speak and understandthe English language excludes children (national origin minority)from participating effectively in classroom activity and othereducational programs offered by a school district, equal protectionrequires the respective district to take affirmative action/steps tomitigate the language deficiency (Clark, 2016). This will enable thedistrict to open its instructional program to students learningEnglish as their second language (Archerd, 2013). However, equalprotection guidelines do not describe/specify the steps that eachdistrict in required to take in addressing the language deficiencyamong English language learners. However, the guidelines specifythat districts violate federal law if:
Schools exclude students from participating effectively in school because they are unable to speak and understand the language.
Students from minority countries of origin are assigned inappropriately to special classes because they lack specific English language skills.
Schools do not design programs that teach the English language as soon as possible to the less than proficient students.
Schools do not send notices and other information to parents because of their limited proficiency in English (Welner, 2006 Clark, 2016).
Toensure that programs designed for ELLs are effective, the educationdepartment provides the following guidelines for districts to ensureequal protection for students:
Districts should identify students as potential English Language Learners. This gives students the ample time to learn the language regardless of their level of incompetency.
Districts should assess the students` need for ELL services. ELLs will, therefore, receive ELL services according to their area of need as fast as possible.
Districts should develop programs that have reasonable chances of success in view of ELL experts.
Districts should ensure the necessary facilities staff and curricular materials are in place and being utilized properly.
Districts should develop effective standards of evaluation for ELLs to assess the progress of students. Additionally, they should design appropriate exit criteria.
Districts should assess the success of programs and make amendments in areas where in the view of experts lack the required effectiveness. (Linn & Welner, 2007 Deveaux, 2013)
Archerd,E. (2013). An Idea for Improving English Language Learners` Access toEducation. FordhamUrban Law Journal, 41.
Clark,E. (2016). English Language Learners Capstone Portfolio.
Deveaux,E. R. (2013). An examination of referral and eventual placement ofAfrican American students and English language learners in specialeducation.
Linn,R. L., & Welner, K. G. (2007). Race-Conscious Policies forAssigning Students to Schools: Social Science Research and theSupreme Court Cases. Committee on Social Science Research Evidence onRacial Diversity in Schools. NationalAcademy of Education (NJ1).
Tanner,C., & Indiana, W. G. U (2012). Federal and State Laws and CourtCases Concerning ELLs.
Welner,K. G. (2006). K–12 Race-conscious student assignment policies: Law,social science, and diversity. Reviewof Educational Research, 76(3),349-382.