Number of English Learners Students on the Rise in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Number of English Learners Students on the Rise in Delaware

Posted: Aug 06, 2018 7:06 PM Updated:


MILTON, Del.- The English learning population in Delaware is growing at a staggering rate. 

According to a study, conducted  by the Rodel Foundation and the Delaware Hispanic Commission, in Sussex county alone the number of English learners (EL) students there has increased 597% since 1997. 

"With numbers growing like this, more resources are necessary," Says Neil Kirschling, head of the education committee of the Delaware Hispanic Commission. "These are big numbers that are projected to continue to grow. Yet, Delaware remains as one of the only four states in the country without any state education funding per English learner student," he added. 

To raise awareness about this matter, the Rodel Foundation and the Delaware Hispanic Commission, worked side by side with teachers, students, and community leaders, putting together a series of fact sheets that explain the needs of the growing number of English learners. 

Some of the highlights of the fact sheets include:

  • 75% are born in the US. The remaining 25% are immigrants
  • Delaware EL students speak almost 100 languages. Spanish is the main one with 75% .
  • ELs are the fastest growing student population in the state. 
  • Sussex County has the highest concentration and is fastest growing with nearly 3,000 Els students enrolled. 

"English learners are at a disadvantage," says Jackie Wagner, an English teacher in Milton. "Language needs to be embedded in your day to day, hour to hour," she adds.

Wagner says that although the districts are trying their best, the need for specialized teachers and funding are undeniable. 

"I know someone in Sussex County who has 190 students on her caseload, and it's very hard when you need to embed the language in their entire day," says Wagner. 

"We're aware of the growth and we're working on finding strategies to address the needs of the community," says Maria Paxson, education Associate with the Delaware Department of Education.  

"One of the strategic plan goals is to ensure that all of our educators coming out of, at least, the Delaware education preparation program come out with at least some basic level of understanding of how to work with an EL student," added Paxson. 

On Tuesday, the Governor's Advisory Council on English learning will hold a public meeting in Dover to continue the discussion and maybe find solutions. Education will also be the center of the 2018 Latino Summit this upcoming October in Wilmington. 

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