News Release

UnidosUS: Florida Gets Federal Approval of ESSA Plan at the Expense of English Learner Students

September 27, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza) denounced the approval of Florida’s federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by the U.S. Department of Education. Florida, which up until yesterday was the sole state without a federally approved ESSA plan, had been widely criticized for failing to submit state plans that fully complied with federal law and ensured needed protections for students who are economically disadvantaged, from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups, English learners and students with disabilities—the fundamental values at the heart of ESSA.

UnidosUS joined Florida advocates and partner organizations in expressing outrage over yesterday’s decision, noting the impact this will have for historically underserved groups.

“We remain gravely concerned over the approval of Florida’s education plan and the long-term implications this will have for our most vulnerable students—in particular, the roughly 300,000 English Learners in the state,” said Jared Nordlund, Florida Senior Strategist at UnidosUS.

“But our work is not over. Florida students deserve a high-quality education and we will work with Florida’s new governor and state legislature to modernize state law to protect the rights of all Florida students, especially students of color and English Learners. Despite this flawed decision, we will continue to fight to ensure the academic progress of all students is accounted for in the system and not swept under the rug by the state’s leadership, special interest groups and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos,” concluded Nordlund.

For more than a year, UnidosUS has met with public officials at the state and federal level to advocate for changes in the Florida’s ESSA plan. While some changes were made from the original plan, in the end, Florida failed to include a measure for English language proficiency in its school grading system, nor plans to adopt a native language assessment—despite having one of the highest numbers of K-12 English learner students in the country.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit www.unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact:
Gabriela Gomez
ggomez@unidosus.org
(202) 776-1732