Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Texas Sued Over English Language Learner Services

A Latino advocacy group has sued the state of Texas, alleging that it is not adequately educating Hispanic English Language Learners.

The League of United Latin American Citizens brought the suit, with assistance from attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The suit alleges that the state is not sufficiently training teachers who work with ELLs and that such students are not receiving the resources they need in order to improve their English proficiency.

In particular, the suit raises concerns about the large number of students labeled ELLs who are in high school and middle school. They point out that many of the students are not new immigrants but rather students who have been attending U.S. schools for years yet still are not English proficient.

Such suits have not been successful in the past. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010 reversed a lower court ruling and called for more analysis of the issue.

“Four years ago, the 5th Circuit described the performance of ELL students as “‘alarming’ and when one out of every two long-term ELL students is not advancing in English today, this shows that things have not changed,” attorney David Hinojosa said in a statement, according to the Texas Tribune. “This lawsuit should be the wake-up call that is needed to spur positive, affirmative action by the school districts and the State of Texas once and for all.”

About 17 percent of Texas public school students are ELLs — and about 90 percent of those students are Latino.