The state Legislature passed a bill on Nov. 15 that updates existing law about educating English learners (EL) in the Commonwealth’s public schools, according to a press release.
The bill, known as “An Act Relative to Language Opportunity for Our Kids” or LOOK, was passed unanimously in the Senate and was approved 155-1 in the House.
“This bill is a huge step forward for English language instruction in our Commonwealth,” said local state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, co-chair of the LOOK bill conference committee and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, according to the press release. “It will empower parents and educators to make the most effective educational decisions, based on each student’s individual needs. And it includes safeguards to ensure English learners don’t fall between the cracks or languish in ineffective programs. Thank you to Rep. Sánchez and Sen. DiDomenico for introducing this critical legislation, and to all the advocates who’ve pushed for it for so many years. Thanks also go to my conference committee co-chair, Rep. Peisch, and all the members of our conference committee for their dedication to fixing our state’s failed one-size-fits-all model with an effective, bi-partisan solution.”
The bill eliminates the mandate that schools use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) as the default English learner program model, giving them greater flexibility to establish programs based on the needs of their students. Under the bill, school districts can maintain current SEI programming or choose to implement an alternative program.
The bill, among other changes, creates Parental Advisory Councils in districts with high EL populations.
The bill was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Nov. 22.
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“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Massachusetts to take a quantum leap or two on some of the things that voters have been telling Beacon Hill for a long time that they want to see us do,” Chang-Díaz said.