The Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the Department of Education recently released a one-page fact sheet on English literacy education in the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) grant program administered by the Division of Adult Education And Literacy. It includes useful statistics on student enrollment, outcomes, and demographics.
I don’t know this for a fact, but I have to assume this was put together as a resource for folks on the Hill working on immigration reform (English language acquisition is an issue in the pending legislation, since the pathway to citizenship will require undocumented immigrants to demonstrate some level of English proficiency).
Here is the full text of the immigration reform bill introduced by the Senate “Gang of Eight” yesterday: S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.”
Pretty consistent with what I had been hearing:
- Establishes “Office of Citizenship and New Americans” at USCIS.
- Creates a “United States Citizenship Foundation” to fund the Office of Citizenship and New Americans, the purpose of which is seems to include expanding citizenship instruction.
- Seems to partially punt, though, on the adult English language instruction issue somewhat by creating a “Task Force on New Americans” to look at this issue, among others.
Seems to me that the big question is whether USCIS will coordinate with the existing adult ESL system or create something parallel… not clear from my quick skim. I’m eager to hear what others think after giving it a more thorough read. Take my comments above with a grain of salt — I may have missed something.
UPDATE (4:30 PM): Something I missed on the first go-round: In addition to the above, there is also another grant program allowed under Title II. Under Section 2106, up to $50 million from the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund can be used for grants, and the list of permissible uses of those grants includes civics and civics-based English as a second language instruction.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund would be set up as the depository of the funds collected via various existing and new fines/fees. It’s important to note that the grant program coming out of the Trust would be allowable, but not mandatory, and there’s really no way to tell how realistic it is that as much as $50 million would be available for it, let alone how much might actually end up in the hands of programs that offer ESL instruction. A lot of activities under this legislation would be funded through the Trust.
A comprehensive analysis of the potential funding opportunities will take some time. It will also take some time to better understand how well/whether the provisions related to English language instruction leverage the existing federal funding for adult education.
Nonetheless, I still feel that there is something of a punt here on some of the integration pieces—to be sorted out and clarified via the “Task Force on New Americans.”
Again, though, this is a very preliminary look at a very long (844 page) bill.
Sorry also about the typos in the original post.