Return to Headlines

L.A. School Board Commits to Greater Support for Multi-Language Learners and Newcomer Students (05-07-24)


Contact:                                                                                            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Megan VandenBos, 213-241-6388                                                                               May 7 2024       


L.A. School Board Commits to Greater Support 

for Multi-Language Learners and Newcomer Students


LOS ANGELES, May 7, 2024 – The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education today unanimously called for deepened support for Multi Language Learners (MLL) students in academics, socioemotional support, college preparation and legal resources. The resolution, authored by Board Member Kelly Gonez, outlined the need for the creation of a Revised English Learner Master Plan that can ensure continued success of students learning in multiple languages. Board President Jackie Goldberg, Vice President Scott Schmerelson, Dr. George J. McKenna III, Dr. Rocío Rivas, Board Member Nick Melvoin, Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin and Student Board Member Karen Ramirez all joined as cosponsors of the resolution.


“This resolution stems from direct engagement with students and families in the East Valley, who shared the need for deeper, more holistic support,” Board Member Kelly Gonez said. “Whether our MLL students are native to Los Angeles or newcomers, they bring their own experiences and assets to our schools. As a school district, I know we can do more to meet them where they are, unleash their incredible promise and support their success. This resolution allows us to build upon our existing efforts to make them stronger and better.”


Students in Los Angeles public schools speak 98 different languages at home, and English Learners and Reclassified Fluent English Proficient students make up approximately 44% of the Los Angeles Unified student population. The 2023 Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) results show English Learners as the student group with the greatest Distance from Standard in English Language Arts. At the same time, Los Angeles Unified has seen recent increases in the number of international newcomers who may be unaccompanied minors, migrant students or bring other unique challenges to their studies.


“I am proud of our Multi-Language Learner (MLL) population,” Board President Jackie Goldberg said. “Studies have shown that speaking two or more languages can be a life-long superpower, but we also know that many of our MLL students face unique learning challenges. I strongly agree with Ms. Gonez’s Resolution to expand programs and supports for Los Angeles Unified’s Multi-Language Learners.”


“Due to issues going on elsewhere in the world, we have an influx of students arriving from nations that are in the middle of conflict,” Board Vice President Scott M. Schmerelson said. “While we may not have the power to end those conflicts, we do have the power to support the students that are coming into our district. I am co-sponsoring this resolution because we have to go even further to ensure that, despite what is going on in their homeland, these students feel like they belong here through proper systems of support.”


“In a District that represents many cultures, languages, and identities from around the world, it is extremely important that we do our best to educate our students in the most linguistically and culturally relevant manner in order to provide all students with the highest quality public education,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “It is vital that Standard English Learners are recognized in this process and also provided with tools to achieve.”


“Los Angeles Unified is a tapestry of languages, a beautiful reflection of our global community. Yet, far too many Multilingual Learners struggle to reach their full potential,” Board Member Dr. Rocío Rivas said. “Through this resolution, we’re expanding access to rigorous coursework, culturally aware support systems, and essential resources for newcomers. In partnership with educators, families, and community organizations, we're building a bridge to success for all MLL students. Their potential is limitless, and our commitment is unwavering.”


"I support LA Unified's Multi-Language Learners and International Newcomers and welcome the opportunity to further assess their needs to better understand existing gaps in services and identify additional supports,” Board Member Nick Melvoin said. “I hope the District will continue to expand its dual language immersion programs to create additional options and pathways for students and families. I look forward to reviewing the forthcoming revised Master Plan for English Learners."


“I am excited to see increased commitment to ensuring that our Multi Language Learners have equitable access to rigorous, high-quality learning environments that welcome and affirm their home languages and cultures,” Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin said. “I’m proud to see how far we have come with the creation of four International Network Academies and Dream Centers, 213 Dual language programs, including 40 in Board District 7, increasing our English Language Learner reclassification rates, and more. Even with all this growth to date, with today’s resolution, the best is yet to come!” 


# # #