Dear Secretary Cardona, 

We, a group of concerned educators, administrators, researchers, and advocates, believe that national collaboration and investment is necessary to properly serve our newcomer English learners – those students who are relatively new to U.S. schools. While newcomers are grouped in with the large and heterogeneous English learner category, they have distinct needs that are often unmet by programs and instruction offered to English learners, especially those who enter U.S. schools in middle or high school. Consequently, newcomers around the country are unable to access the appropriate public education that is their civil right. 

We ask that the U.S. Department of Education, through the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), take leadership in growing and supporting the field of newcomer education. A national newcomer convening led by OELA would be a significant first step in facilitating collaborative efforts between educators, administrators, researchers, and nonprofit leaders. Such a gathering can also inform the Department on the state of the field, help develop a national advisory committee, and begin developing a collaborative agenda for advancing newcomer education. 

In particular, we ask that OELA support planning and activity in the areas below:

1. Data Definitions & Inclusion in Data Systems 

The field has insufficient information about newcomers on both the aggregate and individual levels. While newcomers are counted in federal data systems under the Title III Immigrant Student heading, this information is not widely available to the public and has no part in accountability systems. In practice, this means that policymakers and educational leaders lack critical information for targeting resources and school improvement efforts for the distinct needs of this population. 

OELA can lead efforts to galvanize states around common data definitions and study the inclusion of newcomers as a distinct student subgroup in federal data systems. While ESSA provides a definition of immigrant youth for purposes of Title III grant allocation, and several states now have formal definitions of students with (limited or) interrupted formal education (SIFE/SLIFE), the question remains as to how to define the population for purposes of accountability, research, and resource allocation. Once decided, the field will also need guidance on how to operationalize that definition with screening tools and processes.

2. Curriculum, Professional Development, & Research

The field agrees that there are not sufficient curricular resources to meet the diverse needs of newcomer students, and most educators lack training in educating newcomers. Districts around the country struggle to educate their newcomers because of this.

OELA can lead efforts to advance curriculum, professional development, and research for newcomers. This may be done by developing curricular frameworks, prioritizing newcomers in the next National Professional Development grant cycle, calling on researchers to evaluate models for efficacy, and offering guidance for newcomer instruction and administration in the form of an updated Newcomer Toolkit for practitioners. 

As new immigrants continue to make the United States their home, schools are the key welcoming point for students and families joining new communities. We are in need of system-level leadership to help schools educate our newcomers, and we believe that OELA should play a leading role in this work. We recognize that OELA’s capacity is limited in its staffing and funding. We, the undersigned, offer our support in advocating for additional staff and funding to help develop the field of newcomer education. 


National Organizations 

Anti-Defamation League 
Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) 
Children’s Defense Fund 
Center for Applied Linguistics 
Center for Law and Social Policy 
Data Quality Campaign 
Education Reform Now 
Hispanic Federation 
Immigrant Connections 
Internationals Network for Public Schools 
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) 
National Association of English Learner Program Administrators 
National Center for Youth Law 
National Education Association 
National PTA 
New Teacher Center 
SchoolHouse Connection 
Teach For America 
TESOL International Association
The Collaborative for Inclusive Education 
The Education Trust
The Opportunity Institute 
The Opportunity Network
WIDA at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research 

State Education Agencies 

California Department of Education 

State and Local Organizations 

Aliento Education Fund, AZ 
Asian American Federation, NY 
California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) 
California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA) Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC, Inc. 
California Newcomer Network 
Californians Together 
Center for Equity for English Learners, Loyola Marymount University, CA Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY 
Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) 
Convivir Colorado 
Education Insights Center, CA 
Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project 
Immigration Initiative at Harvard 
Latino Community Fund INC, GA 
Long Beach Latino Civic Association 
Long Island Latino Teachers Association 
Metropolitan Russian American Parents Association 
MinneSLIFE Committee of Minnesota 
Multilingual Education Advisory Committee (MEAC) to the Buffalo Board of Education New York Immigration Coalition 
New York State Association for Bilingual Education 
RITELL (Rhode Island Teachers of English Language Learners) 
Suffolk County Hispanic Advisory Board 
Teach Plus California 
The Innovative Daycare Corp 
TE2 Consulting LLC, MN 
Volunteers of Legal Service, NY 
Women’s Empowerment Coalition, NY 

Local Education Agencies 

Anaheim Elementary School District, California 
Elk Grove Unified School District, California 
Fresno Unified School District, California 
Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (HV RBERN)
Lawrence Public Schools, Massachusetts 
Magnolia Public Schools, California 
Oakland Unified School District, California 
Roseland School District, California 
Salinas Union High School District, California 
San Diego Unified School District, California 
San Juan Unified School District, California 
Tehama County Department of Education 
Tulare City School District, California 
Washington Unified School District, California 


El Sol Science and Arts Academy, California 
Keiller Leadership Academy, California 
Montebello High School, California 
Oakland International High School 
Suffolk County Community College, Michael J. Grant, New York