WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this week introduced the ELEVATE Act (S.2761), bicameral legislation that will ensure states receive the federal funding necessary to provide high-quality instruction to students learning English. Specifically this legislation will correct a flawed funding formula the U.S. Department of Education uses to allocate funds to states by fully capturing the number of K-12 students who relocate to the mainland from Puerto Rico. This bill would allow Puerto Rican students to be fully counted in the annual grant allocation that states receive under the English Language Acquisition grant program. Correcting this flaw will be especially helpful to states like Connecticut and Florida, which have large and growing Puerto Rican populations. 

Between 2010 and 2017, Connecticut’s Puerto Rican population increased from 264,000 to 292,000—an 11 percent jump. Florida’s Puerto Rican population rose from 864,000 to 1.1 million—a 27 percent increase.

“As the son of a former English language learning teacher, I know how important it is that we adequately fund these programs in our schools. The failure to completely count newly arrived kids from Puerto Rico is unfair and I’m glad this legislation will make sure that states like Connecticut, with large numbers of families coming here from Puerto Rico, will get the funding they deserve,” Sen. Murphy said. 

“I am proud to introduce the ELEVATE Act with Senator Murphy in order to correct the Department of Education’s flawed funding formula that fails to fully capture the number of K-12 students who relocate to a mainland state from Puerto Rico,” Sen. Rubio said. “This bill will allow Puerto Rican students to be fully counted in the annual grant allocation that states receive under the English Language Acquisition grant program.”

“This bill is personal for me because I grew up in a household where my parents spoke only Vietnamese and I learned English in school. I know firsthand how important it is for young people in this country to become proficient in English. It opens doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain sealed shut,” Rep. Murphy said. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure schools in Florida and other states receive the federal resources they need to help English-learning students succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

“The ELEVATE Act is a big win for Miami-Dade County, as they receive more English Language Acquisition funding than any other county in Florida,” Díaz-Balart said. “This bill ensures that states and schools receive the necessary means to provide high-quality English education to the students who relocate from Puerto Rico, who were not previously accounted for in the Department of Education’s formula. I’m proud to work with Rep. Stephanie Murphy on the House version of this legislation, and I look forward to the positive impact this will have in my community.”

U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 4943).