Rochester Latino Advocates Urge Governor Cuomo and State Legislature to Allocate Needed Funding for Multilingual Learners

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MultiLingualLatino advocates in the Rochester area led by The Ibero-American Action League, Inc. (IBERO), are urging Governor Cuomo and elected officials in Albany to allocate adequate funding for the education of multilingual students in Rochester and throughout the state.

The demand is being made after the release of a new report by the Latino Education Advocacy Directors (LEAD), showing that multilingual students (MLL) lag significantly behind their peers, in academic achieve, and even more so when it comes to graduation rates.

Multilingual Students make up 15% of the Rochester public school population. Despite efforts to increase bilingual staff and recruit Latino teachers, the district has suffered major budget cuts. Rochester has lost 10% of teachers overall due to budget cuts.  Currently, there are three bilingual schools in the Rochester School district.

According to the LEAD report, Investing in Our Future: A Multilingual Learner Policy Agenda for New York State, multilingual Learners in New York State continue to fall behind in graduation rates compared to other students due to lack of adequate focus on needed resources and funding. For example, the population of MLLs across New York State has grown nearly 20% over the last ten years.  Yet, the supply of certified Bilingual Education and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers has not grown accordingly. This inadequate attention has translated into a staggering dropout rate of 30%, that surpasses their graduation rate of 27%.

The report calls for immediate action from New York State Legislators and sets a series of recommendations to close the achievement gap. The coalition understands that the educational success of MLLs will require a collective effort, reliable funding and high-quality monitoring.

The report outlines six main priority recommendations to close the MLL achievement gap that include:
* Fund a Targeted Initiative to Increase Graduation Rates for MLLs?Increase the Number of Certified ESOL and BE Teachers in General and Special Education
* Grow Investment in Academic Supports and Parent Engagement for MLLs
* Increase Socio-Emotional Supports Provided to MLLs
* Form a New York State Commission to Advance the Achievement of MLLs
* Earmark a Minimum of $85 Million annually for MLLs over a Three Years Phase in of the Total $4.1 million Owed in Foundation Aid

“Multilingual learners do require additional supports and resources not less, said Rochester City School District Commissioner Beatriz Lebron. “NYS has laws that require districts to provide these supports but does not fund them properly and this has to stop now. This should not be the norm and our community should not accept it as such. Our children deserve better.”

“We see this need on a daily basis with the families we work with said Angelica Perez Delgado, President and CEO of IBERO. “We currently have well established relationships with Monroe High, School 17 and East High School who are trying to figure out the needs of the multilingual learners.”

“While NYS’s population has decreased, the numbers of Latinos are increasing statewide, said Anthony Plonczynski Figueroa, Chair of the Latino Educational Taskforce. “Now, more than ever, we need educational supports that adequately fund the growing and diverse needs of our multilingual learners. The future of our state depends on it. These students are our future leaders.”

IBERO is part of the LEAD Coalition, consists of leading educational advocacy organizations from across the state committed to improving Latino academic outcomes and opportunities in New York State. Last month it launched a new statewide campaign to push for an increased investment from New York State in its multilingual learner (MLL), to ensure that their academic needs are met. MLLs are students who speak or understand a language other than English and speak or understand little or no English.