Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (09/10/1998)

English Language Fluency Act - Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to establish a program to help children and youth learn English under title VII. Changes the name of title VII from Bilingual Education, Language Enhancement, and Language Acquisition Programs to English Language Fluency and Foreign Language Acquisition Programs.

(Sec. 1) Requires that parents be given: (1) notification of a child's identification as needing English language instruction; (2) the right to consent, or not, to the child's participation in such program; and (3) program information and notice of opportunities for regular meetings to formulate and get responses to their recommendations.

Authorizes appropriations. Directs the Secretary of Education to reserve a specified portion of such appropriations for specified entities serving Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Native American Pacific Islander children and youth at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary school levels.

Directs the Secretary to make English language acquisition formula grants to States for: (1) subgrants to eligible entities to provide assistance to children and youth who are English language learners, as well as immigrant children and youth; (2) professional development and personnel certification, technical assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs), planning, administration, and interagency coordination; and (3) bonuses to subgrantees with exceptional performance in terms of the speed with which their enrolled children and youth attain English language proficiency.

Sets forth requirements for: (1) State applications; (2) subgrantee activities and evaluation measures; and (3) minimum allotments. Requires, for determinations of amounts of State allotments, use of the most recent State data on numbers of resident children and youth who are English language learners.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall be construed as requiring a State or an LEA to establish or continue a program of native language instruction.

Authorizes the Secretary to conduct, through the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, research to improve English language instruction for children and youth who are English language learners and immigrant children and youth. Limits such research-related activities to: (1) identification of successful models for teaching children English; and (2) distribution of research results to States for dissemination to schools with populations of students who are English language learners. Prohibits such research from focussing on any one method of instruction.

(Sec. 2) Repeals authority for the Emergency Immigrant Education Program.

(Sec. 3) Revises ESEA title VII administrative and reporting requirements. Provides for commingling of different ESEA funds. Repeals certain provisions relating to release time, educational technology, notification of State agencies, and continued eligibility of entities receiving funds.

(Sec. 4) Directs the Secretary to issue regulations under ESEA title VII only to the extent necessary to ensure compliance with such title's specific requirements.

Declares that nothing under ESEA title VII shall be construed to negate or supersede the legal authority under State law of State agencies, State entities, or State public officials over programs that are under their jurisdiction.

Voids any compliance agreement with either the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare or the Department of Education that requires a State, locality, or LEA to develop, implement, provide, or maintain any form of bilingual education.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) publish notice of proposed rulemaking with respect to enforcement guidelines and compliance standards of the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education that apply to a program or activity to provide English language instruction to English language learners undertaken by a State, locality, or LEA; (2) undertake such rulemaking; and (3) promulgate a final rule after opportunity for an agency hearing. Prohibits the Secretary from entering into any compliance agreement after the enactment of this Act pursuant to such a guideline or standard until promulgation of such final rule.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the preservation or use of Native American languages as defined in the Native American Languages Act or Alaska Native languages.

(Sec. 5) Amends the Department of Education Organization Act to rename the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs as the Office of English Language Acquisition.