On Thursday, May 12, leaders and representatives from Loyola Marymount University and the Los Angeles educational community gathered at The California Club to honor the 15th anniversary of the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL), an LMU School of Education-based research center and think tank that offers programs, resources, and professional development opportunities that promote equity, excellence, and advocacy for multilingualism in preK-12 schools.
Michelle D. Young, dean of LMU School of Education, noted the center’s significant impact in California, whose residents speak an estimated 200 languages. “During the 2021-22 school year, there were approximately 1.128 million English learners in California public schools alone, about 25 percent of all schoolchildren here,” she noted. “They and their families benefit from CEEL’s work every single day: from research into best teaching practices for ELLs; to the development of toolkits for educators working with ELLs; to their annual Jornada Spanish language conference for bilingual educators.”
Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas Poon noted that the center’s efforts and visibility give LMU national distinction. “The COVID pandemic exposed the inequities that are deeply entrenched in our society, particularly as they pertain to access to education,” he said. “As an institution for and with others, LMU has been charged to combat these inequalities, and it is thanks to programs like CEEL that we can say we are not sitting by idly as social and economic disparities become more visible in the U.S. There is much work to be done, but I’m heartened to know that CEEL is providing resources, guidance, and leadership to educators and organizations a través de California y la nación. Estamos muy orgullosos de CEEL.”
Poon’s use of translanguaging — using multiple languages in the same sentence and conversation — is a nod to CEEL’s success. “It is because of the work of educators and advocates like CEEL and their partners that we can celebrate bilingualism instead of hiding our true selves and our multifaceted and rich identities,” he said.
Other speakers at the event included CEEL Executive Director Dr. Magaly Lavadenz; Dr. Maureen Kindel, longtime co-chair of the School of Education’s Board of Visitors; Dr. Yvonne Chan and Dr. Stanley L. Johnson Jr. of the L.A. County Board of Education; and the Honorable Senator Alex Padilla of California, who offered his congratulations via video. Lavadenz also presented the inaugural CEEL Visionary Award to Fr. Robert B. Lawton, S.J., former president of LMU and a longtime supporter of the center and its work.