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Theory Into Practice

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School-level administrators are often concerned about tertiary supports for English language learners (ELLs), such as translating signs and school documents or offering Spanish classes for their teachers. Although modeling and learning the heritage language(s) of the ESL population can be helpful, its focus on language differences can limit our considerations of broader systemic challenges that impact the success of ELLs in our schools. This article shares the dialogues that school administrators are having about ELL students and discusses the use of social justice and equity focused professional learning communities as a way to transform this discourse to address the broader systemic inequities facing our ELL students. The authors share their insight from their work with administrators as they transform from talking about surface level issues they encounter in their work with ELL students, to deeper discourse about relations of power in schools.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Theory Into Practice on April 15, 2010, available online: