ELL News Headlines

Throughout the week, Colorín Colorado gathers news headlines related to English language learners from around the country. The ELL Headlines are posted Monday through Friday and are available for free!

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Thousands of Miles From Home, Immigrant Finds Herself

Nury Castillo was just 10 years old when she first arrived in the United States. A petite, black-haired girl with big eyes, Castillo barely knew how to undo her own braids, let alone learn to speak English. Of that time in her life, Castillo vividly remembers the bedroom she shared with her parents and two sisters, in her aunt's home in Indiana. Castillo's parents emigrated from Peru in the 1970s, in search of a better life. Castillo's experience as an immigrant, including the challenges she faced and the assimilation process to living in the U.S., is all chronicled in her new book, '3,585 Miles to be an American Girl.'

Displaced From Hurricane Maria, Local Basketball Players Find Solace on the Court

Christopher Rodriguez was at a loss in the hours after Hurricane Maria tore through his small, Puerto Rican town of Carolina on Sept. 20. Like most, he didn't know what to do and had nowhere to go. Rodriguez came to Orange City with his mom and sister, Nicole. While the three are still adjusting to their new surroundings, Rodriguez has started to feel a bit more at home as of late. The Titans basketball team, and first-year head coach Robert Soler, have a lot to do with that.

Working Long Hours Adds Hurdle for Undocumented Students Who Dream of College

Ranferi Avilez is meeting friends for a late lunch. It’s unseasonably hot in Houston for mid-October, but instead of spending his Saturday as he normally does, pouring cold brews and squirting whipped cream on iced caramel macchiatos, the 18-year-old, who received his work permit via DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is doing something special for himself: He is taking a day off. Finances are a big reason so few of these young people go to college, but the steep and rising costs — exacerbated by the fact that most states require undocumented immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition at public universities, even if they have lived and paid taxes in the state for years — is just one of the obstacles these teens face. Many must also help support their families. They usually lack mentors to help them prepare for college, even when — as is often the case — they would be the first in their families to go.

OPINION: Is this tax plan a dream-crusher for higher ed's food service workers, maintenance staff and housekeepers?

Julie Wollman is the President of Widener University, and she writes, "Voices that are largely missing are those of the college and university employees who gain the most from the provision that allows their dependents to receive tax-free tuition remission. These are the people without whom our campuses could not operate. They are the campus safety officers, maintenance staff, housekeepers, food service workers and administrative assistants who would otherwise be unable to afford access to an education of the quality that is available to them through their workplaces. Taxing this tuition remission would raise taxable income so significantly that it would shut down access to countless young people who may lack wealth but who have no shortage of ambition or drive to succeed."

Sioux Falls Schools See More English Language Learners

An eastern South Dakota city has seen an increase in the number of English language learners in the last few years. More than 620 English language learners joined the Sioux Falls Schools District last year and a similar number is expected this school year, the Argus Leader reported . The district has more than 2,300 students classified as English language learners this year. About 10 percent of the district's students aren't native English speakers.

If a School Becomes a Shelter in Puerto Rico, Where Do Students Learn?

A jittery group of middle-schoolers is about to start the first day of classes since September, when Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico and totally disrupted the island's school system. he vast majority of the island's public schools — more than 98 percent — are open for at least part of the day, according to Puerto Rico's Department of Education. But a small number of schools in Puerto Rico are still not holding classes. Before today, that included the students of Liberata Iraldo. The middle school building they usually attend is being used as a shelter for people who lost their homes in the storm.

Deported, Divided: How A Mom’s Return to El Salvador Tore Her Family in Two

More than two months had passed since he'd last seen his mother, through a glass barrier in an immigration detention center in Williamsburg, Va. The U.S. government deported Liliana Cruz Mendez to El Salvador before her son, Steve Bermudez, finished fourth grade. Now it was August, and Steve and his little sister, Danyca — both U.S. citizens born in Virginia — were taking their first airplane ride to join her, leaving a small Falls Church apartment where their framed birth announcements hang on the living room wall.

The Clock Is Ticking Louder for the Children's Health Insurance Program

When the Sept. 30th deadline approached for reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program, no one seriously thought that Congress would let the bipartisan-supported health plan expire.  But now, more than two months later, the program still has not been funded by Congress, and no funding plan is on the immediate horizon. Supporters hoped that long-term funding for the program might be appended to a short-term bill passed on Dec. 7 to keep the government running, but that didn't happen. Instead, congressional leaders are signaling that they will allow some unused federal money to be shifted to states whose CHIP funding is running out the soonest. That buys a little more time, but it doesn't help states, which are now wondering whether they should start notifying families that their child's health care program may be going away, or hold off on such notifications in hopes that Congress will come up with the money soon. 

A Native American 'Sesame Street' Could Help Save Dying Languages

Charmaine Jackson, who grew up on a Navajo reservation but did not learn to speak Navajo, studied the language in college. Today she and friend Shawna L. Begay, who also grew up on a reservation without learning to speak the language, are creating the first-ever Navajo puppets TV show, geared to preschool students and using puppets designed by Navajo artist Jason Barnes.

‘A Land of Permanent Goodbyes’ by Atia Abawi | SLJ Review

"Told from the point of view of Destiny, this novel focuses on one Syrian family tragically affected by a senseless and brutal war…Overall, Abawi skillfully places humanity enmeshed in war into two sides: the 'hunters' who feed on the suffering and the ‘helpers’ who lend a hand."