It is quite rare, I imagine, that someone comes to you NOT asking you to find money to spend, but to encourage one of the offices at 440 to spend money that they already have.
As you know, ELL (English Language Learner) education is financed in part by Title III federal funds. One of the items that can—and should– be supported by those dollars is an after-school program for ELLs. Sadly, despite the availability of ample money for that purpose, no after-school programs for ELLs are being offered this year through the Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs (OMCP), nor were they offered in recent years. Not that the money was used for other purposes–it seems it simply remained unused at the end of the year! Dedicated ESOL teachers around the city stay with their students after school, without pay or with EC pay taken from other school programs, because they know the value of additional instruction for ELLs. These teachers have expressed strong interest in receiving Title III support to continue their efforts. Some teachers and their principals have reached out to OMCP, with no success.
Why are these programs NOT being offered and paid for with Title III resources? A good question that should be addressed to OMCP leadership by administration (if only there were oversight of that office). Could it be a lack of interest in ELLs? A lack of faith in teachers’ abilities? A lack of awareness on the part of out-of-touch OMCP leadership of what teachers are accomplishing during these after-school hours?
Because of an insufficient number of ESOL teachers, many schools are not able to provide the number of state-mandated instructional hours during the school day that ELLs—particularly beginners—-need in order to progress. Well-designed after-school programs that can reinforce English literacy skills will greatly enhance learners’ chances to succeed and will fill the gap caused by lack of literacy support—in English—at home. Currently, “volunteer” after-school teachers are offering such programs as intensive reading practice, content-related writing, and technical literacy, among many other programs. These are certainly the kinds of instructional programs envisioned by Title III funders. What a shame to miss out on the opportunity to help ELLs grow. As a taxpayer I object to this irresponsible non-use of available funds!
Dr. Hite, I would appreciate your help in remedying this worrisome situation. Can you please put me in contact with a person in your office that can help put a process in place to create and support after-school programs for ELLs?