Legal Foundations

About Title III

The English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act, found within the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) as Title III, supports high-quality language instruction educational programs ensure that students who are limited English proficient, including immigrant children and youth, attain English proficiency.  As part of the District’s efforts to support our students in the English Language Development program, we use federal Title III funds to supplement local tax dollars.  Title III dollars may only be used on supplementary supports for the ELD program such as after school tutoring, supplementary supplies, and additional classroom resources.  Students who are in the ELD program are not required to participate in the after school tutoring sessions, but are encouraged to do so.  In order to help our English Learners (ELs) succeed, Title III funds are used to provide transportation home for those ELL students in the after school program.  Parents who wish to see enhancements to the ELD program are encouraged to participate in the District’s ELD Advisory Committee.  Late in 2015, NCLB was reauthorized and is now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The District will continue to comply with federal regulations related to EL and immigrant students as the federal and state governments respond to changes in the updated law.

Bilingual Education Cases and Laws

The Civil Rights Act (1964)
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not address bilingual education directly, but it opened an important door. Title VI of the Act specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. What this means, among other aspects, is that school districts that receive federal aid are required to ensure that minority students are getting the same access to programs as non-minorities. This minority group includes language minority (LM) students, defined as students who live in a home in which a language other than English is spoken. (Although some LM students are fluent in English, many are classified as LEP.) Title VI’s critical role in bilingualism would be made clear a decade later in the Lau v. Nichols case.

Bilingual Education Act (1968)
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1968 was another important step for bilingual education. In particular, Title VII of that act, known as the Bilingual Education Act, established federal policy for bilingual education. Citing its recognition of "the special educational needs of the large numbers children of limited English-speaking ability in the United States," the Act stipulated that the federal government would provide financial assistance for innovative bilingual programs. Funding would be provided for the development of such programs and for implementation, staffing and staff train- ing, and long-term program maintenance.

Title VII has been amended several times since its establishment, and it was reauthorized in 1994 as part of the Improving America’s Schools Act (also called ESEA). In 2002, when NCLB replaced the Improving America's Schools Act, the Bilingual Education Act was no longer included.  However, the basic goal has remained the same: access to bilingual programs for children of limited means.  Late in 2015, ESEA was reauthorized and is now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  While Title VII no longer contains provisions of the Bilingual Education Act, Title III of ESSA continues to support Language Instruction for EL and immigrant students.  

Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education
In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its now infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" public facilities, including school systems, are constitutional. Although the decision was related to the segregation of African American students, in many parts of the country Native American, Asian, and Hispanic students were also routinely segregated. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed Plessy v. Ferguson 58 years later in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.

Pennsylvania Basic Education Circular - Educating English Learners
This document outlines the requirements and interpretations of the legal mandates governing the education of Pennsylvania students who are English Learners.
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