My name is Raquel Ruiz. I am a senior at School Without Walls High School. I am passionate about the emotional well being of D.C. public school students and their right to equal access to education and mental health support. During my elementary school years, I noticed the disparity between monolingual and English Language Learners (ELL) students.
English Language Learners are students of a unique, diverse group that come from different countries around the world, they have different academic, language, and social-emotional needs that are often ignored. Another term commonly referred to ELL students is "LEP" which means Limited English Proficiency.
As the number of ELL students rise in public schools, DCPS must prepare and plan to meet the needs of these students, educators must take the time to learn about their family, background, social-emotional well being, and culture. DCPS overlooks critical factors such as trauma, family reunification, acculturation to a new country, and most importantly a school system.
It is essential that DCPS invest in providing high-quality services and programs to ELL students to help them thrive in their academic and social-emotional state . Moreover, D.C. public schools need to focus on identifying this issue and finding solutions to facilitate better and equal learning for students with many different backgrounds.
In DCPS ELL pupils are being underserved. Even though DCPS is offering a limited number of resources to help some ELL students, they aren't useful nor meeting students and families academic and mental needs. Bilingual Counselors should be implemented in all PK-12 D.C. public schools that have high populated ELL students to support all English Language Learners academic and social-emotional needs. Bilingual counselors should be required because ELL students face many challenges and need support adapting to a new country.
Some may ask, why bilingual school counselors? A bilingual school counselor is a counselor that speaks two or more proficient languages that provide academic, career and college readiness, and social-emotional services to students in the education system. In addition, they speak at least two languages which would benefit all students.
Not only would bilingual school counselors be able to help all students from many backgrounds, they would also be able to implement the Newcomer's program. The Newcomer's Program is a program that was designed to help ELL students learn the English language. Its intentions were also to help them adapt to a new country and for their academic and social-emotional needs to be met. The program was created to help newcomers adapt to the school system better in a comfortable way. The Newcomer's Program would be considered a mandatory class in ELL student's schedule. The guidance lessons would be held a few times a week. Lastly, the need for bilingual school counselors is important because not only would they help students thrive, they would also be informing and continuously contacting parents on how to get involved and help their child succeed. Bilingual counselors are the key to ending the gap between monolingual and bilingual students.