Sharon Birnkrant, the principal of H.W. Smith School in Syracuse, N.Y., is accustomed to receiving refugees from countries she knows little about. So when she heard from a refugee worker that a group of refugees from Bhutan would be resettled in Syracuse this school year, she went into research mode. Ms. Birnkrant is among at least dozens of educators across the country getting ready for a wave of Bhutanese refugees expected to arrive in the United States over the next five years, as the U.S. Department of State prepares to interview 60,000 or more Bhutanese seeking resettlement.
Evangeline Skonning got decked out in Dora the Explorer gear Sunday and headed to Illinois' Warrenville Public Library with hundreds of other children and parents. Throughout the day they enjoyed music, chalk art, games, and a special appearance by a life-sized Dora the Explorer during the library's second annual celebration of Children's Day, or <em>El día de los niños</em>.
A new program in Washington state is working help parents become better teachers. North Central Washington Readiness for Kindergarten is a grant project that offers parents three group classes about literacy and follow-up home visits with literacy specialists. In one classroom, five parents learned how preschoolers identify letter and number shapes. The same meeting was going on for Spanish-speaking parents next door, only the classroom was standing-room-only.
Come fall, third-graders at California's Riverview Elementary School are likely to greet visitors with <em>hello</em>, <em>hola</em>, and <em>ni hao</em>. By then, these native English speakers who have been speaking Spanish for two years will be studying Mandarin Chinese, the world's most-spoken language. Riverview will be among the few public schools in the county that teaches its students three languages.
Elementary-age Spanish speaking students spend much of their school day trying to build their English vocabulary and follow along in class. But for one afternoon each week, about 40 of those students in Washington state's Nooksack Valley School District are encouraged to speak and read in nothing but Spanish. In October, the district launched Club de Lectura, an after-school Spanish reading club for students who are part of the English Language Learners programs at two elementary schools.
Arizona is facing a billion-dollar shortfall in the state budget. Consequently, lawmakers are diligently seeking ways to trim extra expenses. One provision within the newly adopted English-language-learner law that is wasting state funds is the reassessment of students for two years after they have tested out of the English-learner program.
Hundreds of foreign-born families have pulled their children from Virginia's Prince William County public schools and enrolled them in nearby Fairfax County, Arlington County, and Alexandria since the start of the school year, imposing a new financial burden on those inner suburbs in a time of lean budgets. The school-to-school migration within Northern Virginia started just as Prince William began implementing rules to deny some services to illegal immigrants and require police to check the immigration status of crime suspects thought to be in the country illegally.
In the last year, Republicans and Democrats embraced budget plans to provide more funds for Pell Grants, and elite colleges captured considerable attention with a flurry of plans to expand aid to students. But a report being released today has a sober message: For the students at the bottom of the income ladder, all of these well meaning changes have failed to make a dent in underlying problems. The report, "Window of Opportunity: Targeting Federal Grant Aid to Students With the Lowest Incomes," that the way grants are awarded needs to change in ways that would favor the students from the poorest families.
The first year of full-day kindergarten is winding down at an Illinois school district. But an even more audacious program is winding down right along with it: The first year of a full-day English language learner kindergarten class. For the first time, kindergartners who need additional help speaking English are with others facing the same hurdles. Not everyone was confident that the results of the program would be this beneficial, officials admit. But they're sure confident now, and they say that the results could be seen quickly.
Illinois' Gail Borden Public Library will join hundreds of libraries across the nation in celebrating El día de los niños/El día de los libros, which honors the child and reading and emphasizes literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.