US Department of Education awards $120 million to improve education for English learners

The US Department of Education (DOE) announced Thursday that it will be awarding nearly $120 million to institutions across the country in an effort to improve instruction for English-language learners in the nation’s school system.

The DOE’s Office of English Language Acquisition has spearheaded the National Professional Development (NPD) program to build, strengthen, and support a nationwide network of educators suited to working with students who are learning English as a second or other language. Through the NPD’s most recent round of awards, a total of 44 institutions — mostly universities, but also a handful of other public and private entities that support the professional development of teachers and educators — in 23 states will receive a series of grants over the next five years, adding up to $119,638,185.

“As our nation grows more diverse than ever before, we must level up our investments in educators who can provide students from all backgrounds with equitable opportunities to succeed,” said Miguel Cardona, US secretary of education.

With each institution receiving an average of $2.72 million during the five-year period, the Department of Education hopes they will be used to incentivize educators to develop the skills necessary to work with and support English learners in their classrooms. 

According to the DOE’s announcement of the awards, recipient institutions can use the funding to develop grant opportunities for teachers and other educators who work with English learners. The funding will also be used to develop curriculum for training teachers, both those working in the field and those in pre-service professional training programs.

“This $120 million, five-year investment will support high quality professional development and teacher preparation programs across the country,” Cardona said. “It will also help us grow a pipeline of diverse and talented educators who can help more English learners realize their own bilingual and multilingual superpowers.” 

Since taking office in March 2021, Cardona has advocated quite strongly for English learners. During his tenure as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education prior to stepping into the federal role, the state achieved its highest ever extended graduation rates for English-learning students.

“I grew up speaking Spanish at home and thrived as an English learner in school thanks to great teachers who helped me realize that my bilingualism and my biculturalism would someday be my superpower,” Cardona said.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.


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