Two reports by Australia's Northern Territory Education Department have directly undermined an attack on bilingual schools by Minister Marion Scrymgour, who claims they are poor at teaching English. Ms. Scrymgour has repeatedly said there is no evidence to show that bilingual schools accelerate English literacy. But two reports by her own department have surfaced. Both say schools that teach young indigenous children in their own language in initial years, and gradually introduce English, ultimately achieve better English literacy outcomes.
Two years after Compton College was stripped of its accreditation, a multimillion-dollar effort is underway to reestablish the two-year school as an institution of higher learning. El Camino College, which has assumed management of Compton, has spent $41 million in local bond money to renovate facilities and recently hired three new deans to revamp a threadbare curriculum.
Recently released test scores show English language learners at a number of Georgia schools exceeded state targets for English proficiency progress in the 2007-2008 school year. Hall County and Gainesville schools passed all three annual measurable achievement objectives under No Child Left Behind pertaining to the performance of limited English proficient students last school year, and both school systems made "Adequate Yearly Progress" in the English language learner sub-group under No Child Left Behind. Laura Herrington, the English for speakers of other languages director for Gainesville schools, said nearly 25 percent of the school system's roughly 6,300 students do not speak English as their first language.
English can be a tough language to learn, but the federal government hopes to make it easier with a free website intended to improve access to language instruction for immigrants. The website, called USA Learns, is a free and easily accessible resource available to anyone seeking basic English language instruction. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, it meets one of President George W. Bush's immigration reform pledges from 2007. The site is intended to help nearly 11 million adults who are not literate in English, according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
Every night, 9-year-old Elizabeth Torres used to go off to her bedroom to read. When her father asked about what she'd read, she didn't have much to say. Martin Torres decided to spice up the nightly ritual: Father and daughter now read together at the kitchen table. Educators have long encouraged parental involvement, but some schools are taking a more aggressive, hands-on approach in showing parents — particularly those new to this country — that they need to help their children learn.
The University of Colorado has commissioned Denver Bronco Daniel Graham to help recruit minority students. CU is providing high schools with Spanish brochures to outline what classes students need to take to be college-ready. And the university added members to its outside panel that advises top officials on diversity issues. Diversity czars updated the Board of Regents on outreach efforts Wednesday, and provided them with new statistics that show while the Boulder campus enrolled the largest number of freshman minorities this fall, the proportion of students of color has remained at 15 percent since 2005.
The long arm of the global financial crisis reached down into Morena Parada's preschool classroom, where a little girl named Joeli Arias-Lopez painted bright green and orange splotches on an oversize easel and pronounced it a house. The 4-year-old was blissfully unaware that her school, the Child and Family Network Center, stays open in this converted warehouse with a grant from the now-foundering Freddie Mac Foundation. Or that without that money, which was expected last month, her school, filled with bright puzzles, toys, blocks, and dedicated teachers, might end the year early or close down altogether.
Saree Makdisi, a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA, writes, "With California's budget now facing an $11-billion shortfall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed billions of dollars in spending cuts, most of them aimed at the state's already beleaguered schools, colleges and universities. The governor's proposal is now on the table of the special legislative session that he called to address the budget crisis, so this is the time to draw a line to defend our public education system, before any further damage is added to the toll already taken by years of budget cuts on the educational — and hence life — prospects of a whole generation of Californian students."
Inside Maryland's Corkran Middle School a small-class of students are raising their hands as high as they can go, straining to answer questions from a calm, collected teacher. The room is arranged in five or six rows, each with four desks facing a screen where English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher Amy Evers is directing the traffic. Corkran's ESOL program is one of two mini-cluster programs for county middle schools, and what the students learn in these classes profoundly affects their ability to grasp all other subjects.
In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "President-elect Barack Obama's transition team includes at least one person — Juliet V. Garcia, the president of the University of Texas at Brownsville — who must know quite a lot about English-language learners. Her university is located on the bank of the Rio Grande River, which defines the U.S.-Mexico border, and enrolls a great number of ELLs or former ELLs."