Gov. Ned Lamont announced today that he submitted a proposal to the state legislature to codify the right of English learners, or students identified as having a dominant language other than English, to receive a quality education in Connecticut public schools.
The legislation, House Bill 6663, An Act Establishing the English Learners’ Bill of Rights, directs the State Board of Education to draft a bill of rights for parents or guardians of English-learning students to guarantee that their rights are “adequately safeguarded and protected in the provision of bilingual education under chapter 164 of the general statutes.”
“I believe there is nothing more important to a child’s education than an engaged and supportive parent or guardian, and the English Learners’ Bill of Rights will guarantee that they have the information necessary to do so,” Governor Lamont said. “Several weeks ago, a group of parents, students, legislators, and advocates held an event outside my office to propose the creation of this law and explain its importance. After hearing their stories and the importance of this bill to their families, I understood. Their voices were heard in my office, and I hope we can all hear them.”
The legislation stipulates that the bill of rights must include the right of an English learner student to attend public school regardless of immigration status, to have a translator present at critical interactions with teachers and administrators, such as parent-teacher conferences and meetings with administrators and the right to participate in a program of bilingual education when there are 20 or more eligible students classified as dominant in a language other than English, among several other provisions.
“In Connecticut, more than 50 percent of our student population now identifies as non-white. Additionally, more than 45,000 or 8.8 percent of our students are identified as English learners,” Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said. “This is why an English Learners’ Bill of Rights is so important at this time.”
The legislation has been referred to the Joint Committee on Education and is currently being considered.