Education Week recently published two articles that focus on the importance education equity for students with specific needs.

The first article highlights the lack of adequate attention given to English Learner (EL) students within the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant competition. Although Federal regulations directed States to demonstrate if they narrowed the achievement gap for subgroups (which would include EL students), the applications did not make detailed mention of addressing English Learner needs. English Learner advocacy groups (such as the Multi Education Training and Advocacy organization, National Council of La Raza and the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials) expressed this concern to Education Department officials, and additionally argued that it would behoove the Department to have EL advocate endorsements on RTTT grants. The Education Department responded to the advocates’ critiques by noting that RTTT had been a learning process, and that in moving forward, specific attention would be given to English Learner needs.

The second article draws critical attention on the impact of school closures on homeless students. A recent study by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homeless in New York City further highlights how the move to close under-performing schools is conflicting with the rise of homeless students. The study pinpoints how the closing of schools disproportionately affects campuses that service homeless students, who were not fully supported in transitioning to another school. This builds on previous research that homeless students are twice as likely to repeat a grade in comparison to their peers with stable homes. Hence, school closures may diminish attempts to provide comprehensive systems that create educational opportunities for homeless youth.

As the debate on education reform continues to grow, let us remember to keep engaging in conversations that truly address education equity by fully responding specific student needs and providing equal opportunities for all children and youth.

To read both Education Week articles click on the links below: