SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced today that he has been named Chair of the newly created Senate Select Committee on English Learners. The committee will focus its efforts on how to improve the academic success of California’s 1.5 million English Learner students. The committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on March 28 at the State Capitol.

“One in four of all K-12 students in California is an English Learner and only one in ten is successfully reclassified to English proficient on an annual basis. It has become painfully obvious that we are failing to adequately teach English to the vast majority of these students. I’m appalled that nearly half of all English Learners never graduate from high school,” said Senator Padilla. “This committee will raise awareness and focus policy on how best to help California students learn English and be college and career ready,” he added.

English Learners are students whose primary language is not English and who fail to pass the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).

• 89% of all English Learner students do not reach English proficiency annually
• 49% do not graduate from high school
• 87% do not go to college
• 60% of English Learner students come from families who live in poverty

Senator Padilla introduced three bills today to help reform California’s English Learner system — SB 1109 would create a statewide master plan for English Learners, SB 1108 would improve the successful transition of English Learners to mainstream classrooms, and SB 754 would focus attention on “Long Term English Learners”; students who, after several years of instruction, are still not considered English proficient.

“I introduced these bills because it is imperative that we reform the English Learner system. Grim performance data confirms that California schools are not meeting the academic needs of these students. It is both a moral and economic imperative that we do better. California’s workforce of tomorrow is in our classrooms today,” added Padilla.

Senator Alex Padilla represents more than 900,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District which includes most of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.