EDUCATION POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Language Barrier: Overcoming Obstacles for English Language Learners in North Carolina

By Tyler Whittenberg
Education Policy Fellow
Feb. 2011


Over the past decade, thousands of immigrants have moved to North Carolina to contribute to the state’s economy and culture. However, many of them do not speak English in their homes, and as a result many of their children have struggled in North Carolina’s public schools. These children have the potential to be vital members of the state’s workforce, but sadly, North Carolina schools are not equipping them with the skills needed to compete in a 21st century economy. Although the state has taken minor steps toward improving the educational experience of English Language Learners, the extent of program implementation does not address the scope of the challenges. Even in these difficult economic times, there are strategies the state can implement to improve the educational outcomes for these students. By expanding specific professional development and academic intervention programs, North Carolina can improve the quality of English Language Learner (ELL) instruction in a manner that is both fiscally and administratively feasible.

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