May 16, 2019
Senator Connie Leyva
Chair, Committee on Education
State Capitol, Room 2083
Sacramento, California 95814
 
RE: SB 594 (Leyva) as amended on March 28, 2019 – SUPPORT
 
Dear Chair Leyva:
 
As classroom teachers and Teach Plus California Policy Fellows, we are writing to express our support for SB 594, which would establish the English Learner (EL) Roadmap Initiative to expand and enhance the capacity of educators to implement the EL Roadmap in order to better support our Emergent Bilingual students.
 
As teachers in schools throughout the state, we are privileged to witness the potential in all our students, particularly those for whom English is not their home language. These students bring social, cultural, and linguistic assets to our classrooms. We also see first-hand the barriers that many of them face in succeeding academically. With more than 20 percent of California’s students classified as English learners1, and less than 13 percent of them meeting standards in math or English language arts, we must do better.
 
Over the last several years, California has adopted policies that focus on our large population of English learners including the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). In 2017, the State Board of Education adopted the California English Learner Roadmap: Strengthening Comprehensive Educational Policies, Programs, and Practices for English Learners (EL Roadmap)2. The EL Roadmap provides principles intended to guide all levels of the system towards a coherent and aligned set of practices, services, relationships, and approaches to teaching and learning that together create a powerful, effective, twenty-first century education for our English learners.
 
LCFF and the EL Roadmap established a policy infrastructure for improving support and opportunities for our emergent bilingual students, but we have only begun to look at how that policy is changing what is happening on the ground. Recent research has shown that districts may not be sufficiently or effectively identifying and planning for EL expenditures, and that most LCAPs are weak in identifying specific EL goals, actions, and expenditures.3
 
While we had hoped that the focus on English Learners in LCFF and the adoption of the English Learner Roadmap would result in changes in opportunities for our emergent bilingual students, policy guidelines without the necessary guidance and fiscal support to implement that policy will not have any impact on our schools and students. As Principle 3 of the EL Roadmap outlines, it is important for each level of the school system to have leaders who are knowledgeable and can use data to inform instruction and continuous improvement. But as analysis of current LCAPs demonstrates, districts need more guidance on how to allocate funds effectively on research-based practices for all their EL students, including long term English learners (LTELs). SB 594 is an important step through which the state can build the capacity of the local districts, county offices and charter schools to serve ELs through its statewide system of support. 
 
We are pleased to support SB 594 and hope to continue to work with the author to ensure it can provide the investment and support local educators need to meet the diverse needs of our emergent bilingual students. If you have any questions about our position, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our names and email addresses are below.
 
Sincerely,
Sarah Lillis
Executive Director
Teach Plus California
 
Katherine Blackburn
Kindergarten Teacher
Manzanita Community School, Oakland Unified
2018-19 Teach Plus Fellow
 
Gwendolyn Delgado
7th and 8th grade History Teacher
La Mesa Junior High School, William Hart School District
2018-19 Teach Plus Fellow
 
Amelia Herrera, Ed.D.
English Language Development Teacher
Grace Davis High School, Modesto Unified
2018-19 Teach Plus Fellow
 
Paulina Martinez-Perez
6th grade English Language Arts teacher
Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School, Chula Vista
2018-19 Teach Plus Fellow
 
Nikki Revell
11th and 12th Grade English Teacher
New Designs Charter School, University Park Campus
2018-2019 Teach Plus Fellow
 
 
CC: Members of the Senate Education Committee
Senator Susan Rubio
 
1 California Department of Education, Dataquest - Retrieved from: https://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/dataquest.asp
2 English Learner Roadmap (2017). California Department of Education. Retrieved from: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/rm/ 
3 Umansky, Ilana (2018). State Policies to Advance English Learners’ Experiences and Outcomes in California’s Schools. Policy Analysis for California Education, Getting Down to Facts II. Retrieved from: https://www.gettingdowntofacts.com/sites/default/files/2018-09/GDTFII_Report_Umansky.pdf