Florida Delegation Wants Sunshine State to Get Its Share of Funds to Teach English in K-12

Insisting the Sunshine State will benefit, members of the Florida delegation brought back a proposal to change how the U.S. Education Department issues grants for English-language instruction to K-12 students.

In 2019, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.. paired up on the “ELEVATE ACT,” a bill “to ensure that states like Florida and Connecticut receive their fair share of federal funding to provide English-language instruction to K-12 students.

“The ELEVATE Act will improve the formula that the U.S. Department of Education uses to make grants to states so they can hire teachers and purchase instruction materials to help non-native English-speaking students learn the language. The current funding formula does not fully capture students who relocate to a state from Puerto Rico, where Spanish is the primary language of instruction. The bill will correct this flaw, which will be especially helpful to states like Florida and Connecticut that have large and growing Puerto Rican populations,” Murphy’s office noted. “Between 2010 and 2017, Florida’s Puerto Rican population rose from 864,000 to 1.1 million—a 27 percent increase. Connecticut’s Puerto Rican population increased from 264,000 to 292,000—an 11 percent jump.”

Last week, with U.S. Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., now on board, they brought back the proposal.

Rubio introduced the bill on Thursday which was sent to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

“By correcting this existing flaw, we are ensuring the U.S. Department of Education fully captures the number of K-12 students who relocate to a mainland state from Puerto Rico,” Rubio said. “I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill, which will allow Puerto Rican students to be fully counted in the annual grant allocation that states receive under the English Language Acquisition grant program and increase funding for Florida.”

“I will always do everything I can to support Puerto Rican families and make sure all students have the resources they need,” Scott said. “I’m proud to support the ELEVATE Act which ensures our schools have the federal resources needed to help English-learning students succeed and live their dreams.”

Murphy introduced the House version of the bill on Thursday.

“As it is for so many Floridians, English is my second language. I grew up in a Vietnamese-speaking household and I was fortunate to learn English at school,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will ensure Florida schools have the resources they need to help English-learners excel in the classroom and be better equipped to succeed in this country.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the ELEVATE Act,” said Diaz-Balart. “This legislation revises the Department of Education’s grant formula to ensure schools receive the necessary resources to provide high-quality English education to students who relocate from Puerto Rico, and whose primary language is Spanish. The ELEVATE Act is crucial for communities like Miami-Dade County, which receives the highest amount of English Language Acquisition funding in Florida. I thank Rep. Murphy and Senators Rubio, Murphy, and Blumenthal for their leadership on this important issue, and I look forward to enacting this permanent solution for the betterment of our students.”

Murphy’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee last week.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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