The purpose of this paper is to present the history of the Equal Education Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974, its content, and its implications for ELL classrooms and learners.
Historically, learning opportunities for language minority students have often been limited due to differences between English Language Learners' (ELL) native languages and cultures and the dominant language and culture of the United States and the public schools that these students attend (http://www.maec.org/legal.html). Since World War II and the Civil Rights Movement, there has been a national effort and movement to guarantee equal educational opportunities for all students in the country through laws, court rulings, and administrative regulations that protect the rights of students, particularly those whose native language is other than English or those who have limited English proficiency. It has become increasingly clear that, "A substantial body of federal and state legislation defines school districts' responsibilities with respect to such students.
Even though the scope and interpretation of law vary according to specific circumstances, the legal base of schools' responsibility is firmly established and remains in force" (http://www.maec.org/legal.html, Introduction, para; 1).
Legislation began with the Constitution of the United States, Fourteenth Amendment (1868) which states, "...No State shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" (as cited in http://www.maec.org/legal.html, Federal Law, para; 2). Despite this federal law and the fact that our nation consists of people from many backgrounds and has for a very long time, many minority groups, including English Language Learners, were persistently discriminated against. They continued to be viewed "as distinct from the white multi-ethnic majority" and experienced "recurrent discrimination as a result of their perceived difference" (http://www.findlaw.com, Summary of Argument, para; 1). For many of these groups, the struggle for equality in education continues. However, World War...