It should come as no surprise to readers of this book that many English language learners (ELLs) are enrolled in U.S. public schools today. Moreover, it should be no shock to learn that this population is continually expanding. There are ELLs in all 50 states— from Alaska to Arizona, from Connecticut to California—as well as in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. These students speak a variety of languages and come from diverse social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. There are greater numbers of ELLs in the states that have historically been affected by them, but there are also many in states that until very recently had none.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) calls for quality education and accountability for all children in U.S. schools. If the rhetoric of NCLB is to become a reality, the phrase “all means all” must be applied to include ELLs as well as other populations of U.S. students.
Ironically, it seems that the more diverse our schools become, the greater the pressure to homogenize the curriculum and instruction. For ELLs, this pressure has meant fewer opportunities to learn in bilingual and English as a second language (ESL) classrooms. For teachers, increased diversity has meant a stronger push to teach English quickly and place ELLs in mainstream classrooms.
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