Armando Sosa's elementary school is just a quick scramble up a steep dirt path and over a crosswalk from his home in Ramona Gardens, an Eastside housing project known for its crime and violence. If he's late, he can hear the school bell from his bedroom. His mother, Liliana Martinez, loves Murchison Elementary but worries that Armando's zeal for learning will wither in middle school. She has seen too many children from the projects nose dive in sixth grade and begin gravitating toward the gang life that has devoured the youth of Ramona Gardens for generations. So, along with other mothers, most of them Mexican immigrants struggling for a foothold in U.S. society, Martinez helped start a movement to keep children at Murchison at least through sixth grade. That is typically the first year of middle school.
Anyone who moves to a new place must undergo an adjustment period while adapting to the new environment, but that phase is oftentimes longer and more strenuous for those arriving from other countries. In many cases, these new residents speak little to no English, which means a simple task such as going to school can become a burden to students. While adjusting to a new culture these students are sometimes faced with ridicule and hostility from natural born citizens. These students can find a safe haven within the Lenoir County Public Schools' English as a Second Language classes.
Sandra Dymerski can't wait to share her language and culture with West Michigan children and a few adults. Dymerski, who is Mexican, is one of seven volunteers who will be telling stories in their native languages as part of the Kent District Library's bilingual story time program.
When school started this year, districts across the state were supposed to put students with poor or non-existent English skills into language-development classes for four hours a day. Mostly, it's not happening. In part, it's because there were a number of exceptions written into the plan so schools with few English learners or schools participating in certain approved reading programs are excluded from the requirement.
Last year was Manhattan Charter School's first year teaching third grade and its first year of state testing. All 19 third graders passed both the 2008 English Language Arts and math exams. In School District 1, 61 percent of students passed the English Language Arts exam and 86 percent passed the math.
As more than 14,000 Roanoke County students head back to school today, some of their parents may be getting ready to go back to the classroom, too. Roanoke County's 2-year-old adult education program, which more than doubled in size in its first year, could well see another jump in enrollment when the fall classes resume Sept. 9. About 134 people took classes preparing them for a GED test, and 158 took classes to help them learn English last year.
Many students in the Buffalo school district speak English as their second language. New statistics show those students are scoring higher on tests than their English-speaking classmates.
<p>When Randi Kay Johnson decided to improve her Spanish this summer she chose to live the language.</p>
<p>"If you want to be a teacher with Spanish as a concentration you need to be able to speak well," she said.</p>
The first three Phoenix school districts to adopt a Spanish-English immersion program more than doubled the percentage of language learners who tested proficient in English in 2007-08 over the previous year, according to the state Department of Education.
A switch in testing for students who are learning English fueled a rebound in scores this year for immigrant-rich schools in Northern Virginia that had failed the year before to meet targets set under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Scores dipped last year when the federal government for the first time required Virginia school systems to give English learners the same reading tests as classmates who speak English fluently, a mandate that local educators vehemently opposed as unfair.