Legal and Ethical Issues
Two instances of conflict between ethics and legal issues are notable in the education of “English Language Learners.” One instance concerns the ethical need to integrate such learners in the academic and social setting through offering structured ELL education and the legal issue of a huge cost to the society for such education. ELLs include immigrant and minority community students with little and insufficient English language skills for proper integration into new/prevalent social and academic settings. Such students’ language skills are deficient: native language use cannot allow suitable personal development in an environment where English is the communicative and instructive medium. Such students still have rights to full participation in social and academic integration and progress. Instructors and schools have an ethical obligation to ease this integration and progress through instituting and maintaining English language classes. Such institution and maintenance represent a legal issue due to their cost to society - training and employment of ELL instructors and time and resource investment that could apply to improve the education of regular students (Echevarria et al, 2006, p. 195-199). The ethics-law conflict lies in the legal issue of a need to eliminate or reduce ELL education cost to society, while such action contravenes an ethical obligation to ease the integration of ELLs into society and enhance their social and intellectual lives. The second law-ethics conflict in ELL education concerns the ethical need for specialized instruction methods and settings for ELLs and the legal obligation to apply inclusive instruction methods in states such as California. Given the linguistic deficiencies in ELLs, it is ethical to instruct them in special classrooms, away from regular students, in order to yield more effective and personalized development. Inclusive classrooms such as those in California discriminate against the competent academic development of ELLs through the application of instruction methods that fail to consider their deficiencies and that invariably favor their regular counterparts (Solomon, 2008, p. 1-7). School authorities have ethical responsibility to offer specialized instruction environments for effective and fair academic development of ELLs. Legal provisions for standardized instruction methods in California complicate the academic lives ELLs.
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