It was just announced a few days ago by Lesli Maxwell on the EdWeek Learning the Language Blog that Dr. Rosalinda Barrera has stepped down from her position as director at OELA. Now we really have pay attention to what OELA does next and whether the staff will continue to address the critical issues around ELLs in early childhood education. Get your advocacy muscles ready to flex!
The U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), under the direction of Dr. Rosalinda Barrera, is moving forward with new supports for our field. Here are some key elements of their new message:
In the September 21, 2011 report “Issues from the National Conversations on Educating English Language Learners for the 21st Century” from Dr. Rosalinda Barrera, director of the Office of English Language Acquisition, included these points about early learning:
8. ELS AND EARLY LEARNING
- 8.1 Early Childhood Bilingual Education
- 8.2 Oral Language Development PreK-1
- 8.3 Planning an English Language Program for Incoming Kindergartner
- 8.4 Preschool ELs
- Develop standards for oral language assessments and markers of progress.
- Develop new ELP assessments that are developmentally appropriate instruments for Pre-k and kindergarten levels.
- Young EL students need intentional vocabulary instruction to promote content/concept development, and content/concept based vocabulary, phonemic awareness and native language support. to promote cognitive development and learning.
- National organizations must develop EL/SpEd guidelines for identification of young ELs who are in need of special education services.
- Use parents in classroom and community organizations to supplement the native language support.
- Educate parents and communities regarding the value of primary language, and provide guidance, support, and resources.
And, in Dr. Barrera’s letter to participants in the National Conversations, she describes the OELA’s work plan for 2011-2012 which contains this item #5 of 5 items:
“A national roundtable on young ELs, in collaboration with a number of offices in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) including the Office of Head Start (OHS) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). ”
We appreciate that the OELA has opened a new Facebook page that allows comments on these key issues. Let your voice be heard!