CARSON CITY – The Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce today commended Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, for his commitment to seek $20 million a year in funding for English language learner programs in the Clark County School District.
“We applaud Sen. Roberson for standing up for the needs of Hispanic students in Clark County,” said Latin Chamber Chairman Javier Trujillo. “They are the true future of our community and our state. Their education is what is going to make the state of Nevada strong economically in the next decade. We look forward to working with Sen. Roberson on this initiative.”
Roberson on Monday announced his intention to seek funding for ELL, saying there are currently 52,000 students in the Clark County School District who are not proficient in the English language. These children, many of whom are Hispanic, face an almost insurmountable battle to succeed, he said in a news release.
There is currently no state funding for ELL programs in Clark County, Roberson said.
“This much needed investment in the education of Nevada’s Hispanic children is definitely a step in the right direction,” Trujillo said. “We need to make sure every level of education in Nevada – from elementary school through college – takes the necessary steps now to address the future needs of our Hispanic children.”
A panel of state lawmakers earlier this year agreed to consider changes in the state public education funding formula to take into account such factors as the number of English language learners in a school district.
The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967. The Clark County School District sought the review to look at whether the state’s education funding plan needs to include additional funding for educating specific groups of students.
Roberson’s proposed “Every Child Learns Initiative” would provide funding for ELL programs at each of the 217 elementary schools in Clark County, which will initially serve 6,400 pre-kindergarten English language learner students and will include the creation of 200 new teacher positions, as well as 200 new instructional aide positions.
Finding money for the proposal will be a challenge in the 2013 session. While Nevada’s economy is improving, there will also be a lot of demands on the state’s limited general fund revenues.
“Of the 311,000 students in CCSD, one-sixth cannot speak proficient English,” Roberson said. “A large portion of these students are Hispanic. No rational person can think that this situation is acceptable. Latino students make up almost a majority of students in CCSD. For CCSD to succeed, Hispanic students must succeed. Likewise, for Nevada to prosper, the Hispanic community must prosper.”
CCSD Superintendent Dwight Jones is supporting the Every Child Learns Initiative.
“Providing support to our English language learners is one of the top priorities for the Clark County School District,” Jones said. “Other states with a large number of English language learners, such as Florida, have seen real academic gains by employing strategies such as early childhood education. This is an investment in our students that will pay off with big increases in our overall academic achievement as we prepare our students to be ‘Ready by Exit.’ ”
“The Every Child Learns Initiative will provide more Nevada children with a real opportunity to succeed,” Roberson said. “Nothing we do in Carson City is more important. While the initial focus of this initiative will be in Clark County (where the largest number of English language learners reside), it is anticipated that the Every Child Learns Initiative will become a statewide program. I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to make Every Child Learns a reality in 2013.”