Rhode Island education commissioner Angelica Infante-Green is rebuking an idea floated by Rhode Island Republicans to set up language learning academies for students learning English.

After Governor Gina Raimondo’s annual address to the General Assembly, where she talked about the efforts the state has made to improve education, the Rhode Island Republican party the offered the suggestion for the growing population of students learning English.

The party plans to introduce legislation to create state language academies. The group said students who do not speak English would go to these schools to become proficient, then return to their district schools.

“Many school districts are inundated with children that cannot speak English – driving up the cost and downgrading the quality of education for all children,” the group said in a statement. 

While no legislation has fleshed out exactly what these academies would like, or how they would operate, the idea is already controversial.

In a statement Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green said “the solution is not to remove them from our schools or create a parallel system.”

Infante-Green also appeared to take issue with the language used by the party, saying “We need to stop talking about multilingual learners as a drain on the system.”

Across the state, schools are desperate for teachers who can work with students learning English. Students learning English now make up about a third of all students in Providence. In Rhode Island those students are routinely among the lowest performing in academic achievement.