DOE Academic Recovery Plan Fails Immigrant Students and Families say advocates

Photo credit: Daniel Ernst

Following the release of the New York City’s Department of Education’s (DOE) Academic Recovery Plan (ARP), the New York Immigration Coalition Education Collaborative is sounding the alarm regarding the ARP’s lack of sufficient investments in programs to support immigrant students to fully recover from the academic impact of remote learning. Advocates warned that without adequate support, English Language Learners (ELLs) and children of immigrants could be left behind in the next school year.

Andrea Ortiz, Manager of Education Policy, New York Immigration Coalition, said in a statement:

“Every student deserves an equal chance at academic recovery and success. But the DOE’s Academic Recovery Plan’s failure to adequately support the needs of immigrant students leaves behind a student body that has suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. The lack of targeted investments towards an English Language Learner academic recovery program or a comprehensive immigrant families communications plan will rob countless kids of opportunities they need and deserve. We have been sounding the alarm for more than a year, and the DOE is running out of excuses for this ongoing neglect. With $4.8 billion in Federal ARP funding, the DOE has an opportunity to create an inclusive academic recovery plan that leaves no child behind. Now more than ever, we need a comprehensive effort to support ELLs and students with Limited Proficient Parents to ensure that every New York City student can achieve their full potential and thrive.”

On Thursday, the Department of Education released its Academic Recovery Plan, without targeted investments towards tutoring and after-school programs for English Language Learners and students with Limited English Proficient families. The exclusion comes despite the dropout (23%) and graduation rates (46%) of ELLs in 2020. ELLs and students with Limited English Proficient families need significant and targeted investments for extended day and Saturday programming that is designed to support their unique needs. Because ELLs require specific instruction and services to be able to make academic and socioemotional progress, generic academic recovery programs designed for all students are not adequate to address the individual needs of ELLs and immigrant students. The DOE’s significant investments to launch after-school and Saturday programs for students with IEPs could serve as a model for ELLs.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-term problems of neglect and deprioritization many ELLs face. Educators and parents informed the New York Immigration Coalition Education Collaborative that their schools cannot provide the full set of ELL services students are legally entitled to, due in part to a lack of English as a New Language instruction, bilingual staff, and bilingual special education services.

The 37% of New York City public school students who have a parent who is Limited English Proficient necessitates the prioritization of improving communications with immigrant families. The $4.8 billion Federal ARP funds stipulate that school districts must prioritize educational equity and engage the public to ensure that the needs of students and communities are best reflected in local spending plans. School districts must also demonstrate transparency in their planning. Thus far, the NYC DOE’s ARP has not met these parameters.

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