Marco Rubio, House Reps Want Florida to Get Its Share of Federal Funds to Teach English in K-12

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

On Thursday, 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.”

Murphy weighed in on the bill on Thursday.

“This bill is personal for me because I grew up in a household where my parents spoke only Vietnamese and I learned English in school. I know firsthand how important it is for young people in this country to become proficient in English. It opens doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain shut,” she said. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure schools in Florida and other states receive the federal resources they need to help English-learning students succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

“The ELEVATE Act is a big win for Miami-Dade County, as they receive more English Language Acquisition funding than any other county in Florida,” said Diaz-Balart. “This bill ensures that states and schools receive the necessary means to provide high-quality English education to the students who relocate from Puerto Rico, who were not previously accounted for in the Department of Education’s formula. I’m proud to work with Rep. Stephanie Murphy on the House version of this legislation, and I look forward to the positive impact this will have in my community.”

“I am proud to introduce the ELEVATE Act with Senator Murphy in order to correct the Department of Education’s flawed funding formula that fails to fully capture the number of K-12 students who relocate to a mainland state from Puerto Rico,” Rubio said. “This bill will allow Puerto Rican students to be fully counted in the annual grant allocation that states receive under the English Language Acquisition grant program.”

“As the son of a former English language learning teacher, I know how important it is that we adequately fund these programs in our schools,” said Murphy. “The failure to completely count newly arrived kids from Puerto Rico is unfair and I’m glad this legislation will make sure that states like Connecticut, with large numbers of families coming here from Puerto Rico, will get the funding they deserve.”

 

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

 

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