A refugee resettlement agency has won the bid to create the statewide plan for English Language Learners through the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Sara Zejnic is the director of refugee and immigrant services at the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids. She says the plan will not only focus on students, it will also include recommendations for teachers and parents.
Zejnic says, “I think it’s also shown us the importance of equity and the importance of making sure that districts across the state schools across the state have the resources necessary to welcome and support refugees and immigrants in their communities.”
Zejnic says an effective plan is especially important now that hundreds of Afghan refugees will soon be arriving in Iowa. The ELL plan will target students in the K-through-12 system and it’s mainly geared toward refugees, humanitarian parolees and survivors of human trafficking. Anne Dugger, the center’s director of education services, says others will also benefit.
Dugger says, “So, when you look at ‘Hey, we’re making a state plan for refugees,’ the collateral beneficiaries are immigrants, any other ELL — English language learners in the school population.” It’s estimated the new ELL plan will go into effect at the beginning of next school year.
(By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio)