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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Science and Teacher Training Are On ELL Chief's Agenda


Rosalinda B. Barrera, the new director of the U.S. Department of Education’s office of English-language acquisition, plans to use the “bully pulpit” of her office to draw national attention to the need for English-learners to receive high-quality science instruction.
—Stephen Voss for Education Week

By Mary Ann Zehr | Ed Week
November 12, 2010

Washington

Rosalinda B. Barrera, the new director of the U.S. Department of Education’s office of English-language acquisition, has a strong interest in improving science instruction for English-language learners and building the overall capacity of the nation’s teachers to work with such students.

“In this day and age, with the diaspora of English-language learners across the nation, it behooves us to prepare all teachers to work with ELLs,” Ms. Barrera said this week.

In a 45-minute interview, the former dean of the college of education at Texas State University-San Marcos focused on how she aims to increase awareness of the needs of ELLs nationally through new research studies and by ensuring that such students benefit from existing federal initiatives or grant programs. But she stopped short of revealing her position on any proposed policy changes to affect English-learners.

Ms. Barrera “is not one who has been on the regular scene on the national policy level,” but she is well known in the fields of teacher education and bilingualism and biliteracy, said Kris D. Gutiérrez, a professor of literacy and learning sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the president of the Washington-based American Educational Research Association.

“I was excited when I learned of the appointment that they were selecting someone who brought in a deep understanding of the language processes and practices of the English-language learners,” added Ms. Gutiérrez, who has known Ms. Barrera professionally and personally for 25 years.

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