According to a November 2009 report from the Migration Policy Institute thirty states started the last school year with ESL teaching vacancies. For example, according to an article in the TRIBUNA newspaper the number of students in the state of Connecticut that speak limited or no English, including refugee students, has skyrocketed while the number of teachers qualified to teach them English has declined.
Statewide, the number of students in the state that speak limited or no English has exploded over the past decade, but the number of teachers trained to help them has actually declined.
Eight years ago, one of every 27 students in the state was classified as speaking very limited English; today the ratio is one in 18, a net gain of almost 9,000 students.
Meanwhile, the number of qualified teachers has dropped by more than 9 percent, from 850 to 772.
“We have more students than we have staff to help them,” said Mark Mc- Quillan, the state’s education commissioner. “We have a problem to solve. … This is one of the neediest groups and we are not making much headway.”
The four-year high school graduation rate for students with limited English proficiency was 53.4 percent last year compared to 79.3 percent for all students, according to the State Department of Education.
Their test scores are also across-theboard way below their English-speaking peers. For example, just 18 percent of 10th grade students at Bridgeport Public Schools tested as proficient in math compared to 38 percent of all students being proficient statewide…
…The Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think-tank for immigrant integration, reports that the number of limited-English students nationwide has grown by 57 percent from 1996 to 2006.
The problem, their November 2009 report says, is there are not enough trained teachers in the U.S. to work with these students. Thirty states started the last school year with ESL teaching vacancies.
That was the case in Connecticut this school year. In a recent report, the Connecticut Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said hiring more qualified teachers for limited-English students is a key to closing the state education achievement gap… Read more here
The result here is that we have a lot of refugee children moving through the school system and either not graduating or graduating with poor knowledge and abilities, and none of that comes cheap. The two obstacles are a limited number of qualified teachers and not enough money to fund education for students that speak limited or no English. Who should pay these increased costs? The refugee program is a federal program and some argue that the federal government needs to start reimbursing local school districts for refugee children. Or should states absorb these costs since states voluntarily accept refugees for resettlement? (At least those that do not come on their own volition from other states.) Or should local school districts pay these costs since that is how we fund our schools? One way or another we should not let children grow up in this country without basic education.
This is another issue of refugee resettlement capacity that is often ignored when refugee resettlement agencies each year reflexively demand that a larger number of refugees be resettled than were resettled in the previous year. If the agencies’ lobbying group RCUSA had its way we would be accepting 100,000 refugees this fiscal year instead of the 80,000 that the Obama Administration authorized.