Reimagining a better
system for ELs

The Coalition for English Learner Equity is a growing coalition of activists, leaders, and educators working to advance equity and justice for linguistically and culturally diverse students.


WHY change is necessary now!

Deficit views of historically marginalized children, their families, and communities based on race, class, language, and culture persist in education1. The COVID 19 pandemic brought this truth into sharp focus, having been preceded by another social evil: racial injustice2. The inhumane and unfair structures and policies in our systems are evident in police brutality, civil rights violations of peaceful demonstrators, unequal access to health care, and unfair educational policies.


Nationally, the digital divide is greatest for students of color with 26% of Latinx students, 30% of Black students and 35% of Native American students lacking adequate internet or devices for learning at home.



In the last 10 years, over 30 states and districts have been found to be in violation of the civil rights of ELs to a quality education.


Disparities in Graduation rates

ELs graduate at a rate of 67% compared to 85% for non-ELs, as of 2015-16


Communication Challenges

65% of Latino families feel that learning is more difficult for their children due to communication with teachers being more difficult while schooling on-line and from home.


The COVID 19 pandemic exposed long-standing inequities and laid bare the true degree to which school systems are currently ill-equipped to meet the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse students3 in the classroom and in outreach to families. Educators have received little guidance or resources to ensure continuity of learning. With long-term implications of COVID 19 likely to last a generation, school systems must respond in this immediate moment. Moving forward, a sustained and strategic collaboration at all levels of the school system is needed to reimagine the way linguistically and culturally diverse students are served in schools.

There are promising trends of achievement when we look at performance of linguistically and culturally diverse students no longer classified as English Learners. There is now a robust research and practice base from which practitioners can draw from to improve the system4. Yet, evidence-based practices have not yet reached the hearts and minds of educators in classrooms, schools, and districts. The conditions for linguistically and culturally diverse students to succeed and thrive in school are not yet in place.

  1. 3. This coalition uses the term “linguistically and culturally diverse students” to describe a heterogeneous group of learners that includes students learning in Dual Language contexts, students who are multilingual, and students who are bureaucratically labeled as English learners. These are students for whom language is a reason for their minoritization due to systemic racism, but also for whom language, culture, and literacy are their greatest assets.
  2. 4. To see a condensed version of the latest research for teaching English learners in English Language Arts see here, and for Mathematics see here.


We believe that ALL students, especially linguistically and culturally diverse students, must have:

  • access to an engaging, relevant, and humanizing education—a socio-cultural, human endeavor—which is a universal right, central among all civil rights,
  • an education that supports them to become knowledgeable, flexible, resourceful, and independent thinkers,
  • a coherent learning experience that empowers them to make sense of the world and to appreciate their power to reason, communicate, and create change,
  • access to curriculum and instruction that integrates and simultaneously develops content knowledge, disciplinary practices, and language and literacy skills that enable them to pursue academic and career pathways of their choice,
  • knowledgeable and caring teachers, schools, and districts that partner with families and caregivers as equals,
  • a learning environment that embraces and leverages the linguistic and cultural assets they contribute to their school communities, and
  • support networks that foster a positive identity so that they can make choices based on their interests and aspirations, and be prepared to be agents of change in society.
In an increasingly global society, and in a nation that is linguistically and culturally diverse, it behooves us to build on our linguistic capacities and to understand ways to optimize what immigrants and their children bring.”
— Dr. Kenji Hakuta,
Educating Language Minority Students and Affirming Their Equal Rights: Research and Practical Perspectives, EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER, May 2011.


The Coalition for English Learner Equity calls for all individuals and groups working to improve the education system for linguistically and culturally diverse students to join us in reimagining education and committing to the following based on their areas of expertise:


Join this movement by signing this Statement of Agreement.


Take a stand against racist policies and practices, examine our unconscious biases, and acknowledge the smog of racism we are socialized to ignore. We do this by:

  • inspiring reflection on experiences, beliefs, actions, and habits,
  • sharing relevant stories that inform practice and deepen our understanding of the realities and histories of linguistically and culturally diverse communities,
  • forming coalitions with students, families, communities, and colleagues across all social, racial, and ethnic groups

Design curriculum and instruction with linguistically and culturally diverse students as priority users in mind and ensure their inclusion in a broad range of academic and career opportunities such as:

  • High school course pathways that consider students’ interests, backgrounds, and choices
  • Recruiting linguistically and culturally diverse students into programs where they are under-represented such as STEM

Reimagine partnerships with families and caregivers of linguistically and culturally diverse students based on trust, respect and valuing their experiences and histories to create authentic and transparent two-way communication


Design content-focused, student-centered, instructionally relevant, and actionable professional learning experiences for all educators to serve linguistically and culturally diverse students and recruit leaders and educators who themselves are linguistically and culturally diverse


Showcase practices and strategies to serve students and their families that demonstrate excellence and value the linguistic and cultural assets they have in the classroom and beyond by:

  • Creating videos and other resources that show examples of high-impact curriculum and instructional practices
  • Using video in professional learning to demonstrate pedagogical strategies and content that create powerful learning environments for linguistically and culturally diverse students

Collaborate and tap into the rich expertise of this coalition to advocate, research, design, and implement policies and practices that advance equity and justice for linguistically and culturally diverse students


Our members include organizations and individuals committed to ensuring that the educational rights of linguistically and culturally diverse students are protected. CELE brings together those who are working toward a shared vision on behalf of these students and their families. In addition to coalition members who have made a commitment to the actions below, we invite all others to express their support for this shared vision by signing on to the statement.
Understanding Language
The Lawrence Hall of Science
Latino Policy Forum
The Education Trust-West
Californians Together
Abriendo Puertas
Aída Walqui, Ph.D
Educational Linguist
Lily Wong Fillmore
Jerome Hutto Professor of Education Emerita, University of California at Berkeley
Maria Santos
Educational Consultant
Guadalupe Valdes
Guadalupe Valdes Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education Stanford University
Patricia Gandara
Research Professor and Co-Director of Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles
Judit Moshkovich
Professor, Mathematics Education University of California, Santa Cruz
Kenji Hakuta
Professor Emeritus, Stanford Graduate School of Education
Delia Pompa
Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute


Cary Knight
EL Field Agent
Delaware Deptartment of Education
Deborah Palmer
Professor of Equity, Bilingualism and Biliteracy
University of Colorado Boulder
Dennis Regus
Math Administrator, Instructional Services
Riverside County Office of Education
Diverse Learners Cooperative
Dr. Conor P. Williams
The Century Foundation
Ellen Kubicek
EL specialist
Parkway School District
Emily Wendlake
EL Teacher
Greendale High School
Godfrey-Lee Public Schools
Hamilton County Schools
Joanna Wong
Associate Professor
California State University, Monterey Bay
Joanna Yip
Instructional Specialist
Kaitlin Moran
Academic Dean
Achievement First
Kathryn Chval
Professor, Mathematics Education
University of Missouri
Kevin Jepson
Professional Development Specialist and Multilingual Learner Specialist
EL Education
Kimberly Hanley
Title I Instructional Coach
Capistrano Unified School District
Kyle McDonald
Senior Director, Academic Program Policy
NYC DOE, Division of Multilingual Learners
Linda Carstens
Coach, contributor
English Learners Success Forum
Lisa Jilk
Program Director
Re-culturing Math Departments for Excellence and Equity
Monterey County Office of Education
Student Achievement Partners
TODOS: Mathematics for ALL
William Zahner
Associate Professor
San Diego State University
Yanet Bueno
Math Curriculum and Instruction Specialist
Zandra de Araujo
Associate Professor
University of Missouri