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May 14, 2012

Bridging Early Achievement Gap

The New York State Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force works to provide educational opportunities to Hispanic children in New York State.

(Albany, NY) With the recent successful passage of the Dream Fund in the New York State Assembly, the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force will begin to increase their push for better educational opportunities for immigrants in New York State. Particularly, the Task Force would like to see improvements in early bilingual education programs in New York elementary, middle, and high schools. Lack of English proficiency in these young students presents a major barrier to their future academic success.

 Current studies suggest, that early enrollment in educational facilities can greatly improve the language and mathematics skills that children develop in later years. However, as of 2011 only 40% of Hispanics between the ages of three to five were currently enrolled in early education programs, compared to 59% of their Caucasians counterparts. It is our duty, as Hispanic representatives, to raise awareness of early education programs and to encourage our constituents to enroll their children in programs that will aid them in their future accomplishments, said Assemblyman Ortiz.

 Lack of fluency in English constitutes an obstruction to equal participation in educational accomplishments. This is noted by the English Language Art exam, which evaluates children from third to eighth grade in their English proficiency. Although studies confirm that learning a new language takes from two to three years; if the student is not fluent in English, he or she is allotted only one year to learn the language. These students are then required to take the English Language Arts exam and will be held to the same standards as his or her English-speaking counterparts. Chairman Felix W. Ortiz stated This process discourages English language learners by evaluating them with the same guidelines as those who have a clear advantage. Assemblyman Rafael L. Jr. Espinal has introduced legislation that extends the learning period allotted to students to three years.

 Assemblyman Rafael L Espinal Jr. (D-Brooklyn) stated, One reason why New York State (especially inner city) schools are failing to meet the adequate yearly performance [AYP] standard is that there has been a large influx of immigrants and these immigrants are tested on proficiency after only one year of English instruction he goes on to state, these pupils are not doing well because of unfair circumstances, not because of inability”we need more reasonable accommodations for these students.

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