Aída Walqui, Director of the Teacher Professional Development Program at WestEd, delivered a keynote speech at two recent symposia about the needs of English Learners (ELs) in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Walqui set the context for the day’s conversations with a discussion of the literacy skills required to participate in today’s evolving workplace and democracy. With economic inequality on the rise, she argued that it is ever more important for our education system to live up to its promise to be the “the great equalizer,” rather than “the great exacerbator,” of access to prosperity and civic engagement. Walqui identified shifts in the design and enactment of language learning which must accompany CCSS implementation to realize this vision.
The pair of symposia, called Moving Forward with Common Core State Standards: Fostering a Learning Culture for English Learners and their Teachers, took place on February 25 in Irvine and on February 26 in Oakland. They brought together district leaders and other stakeholders from across the state and used a combination of presentations and breakout sessions to examine the latest research, resources, and best practices to support ELs within the context of CCSS implementation, including state-sponsored tools, frameworks, and professional learning modules. The California Collaborative on District Reform partnered with REL West and California Education Partners to sponsor the events. These organizations co-sponsored similar symposia focused on other elements of CCSS implementation in August 2012, June 2013 and November 2013.