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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Districts Struggle to Serve Changing Population

Federal Judge Robert W. Gettleman's decision last week to grant class-action status to Illinois' Elgin Area School District U-46 racial bias lawsuit indicates that a new language is being spoken in civil rights cases. Along with claims of overcrowding and busing minority students, the lawsuit accuses the state's second largest school district of failing to provide adequate services for English language learners.

Arizona School District and College Open Doors to Students

Summer officially ended for students young and old Monday as Yuma Elementary School District 1 and Arizona Western College started a new school year. Lara Dinsmore, an eighth-grade reading instructor, noted Woodard Junior High School is placing more emphasis on reading this year, especially with the "high point curriculum," which is a more structured discipline aimed at ELL students.

Kindergartners Counting to Ten — in Spanish

After just a few days at Kentucky's Russell Cave Elementary, kindergartner T.J. Slone can identify several colors and count to 10 — in Spanish. The 5-year-old is one of 62 kindergartners enrolled in a new dual-language immersion program at Russell Cave. While one class is learning math, science and language arts in English, the other is learning all those concepts in Spanish.

Raza Studies Director Defends Controversial Program

Augustine F. Romero is senior director of Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American/Raza Studies Department. The $2.6 million program has recently come under attack from state school Superintendent Tom Horne, who believes it to be racially divisive and hypercritical of American history and culture. Horne wants the program halted. This article contains excerpts from an interview last week in which Romero defended the program and its benefits for 1,700 students.

Two English-Language Learner Programs Come Under Fire

Last month, a Texas court ordered the Texas Education Agency to overhaul the state's bilingual education system, citing low test scores and high dropout rates. In Seattle, an outside review of that public school district's program for immigrant students was deemed weak and in need of restructuring. The program, the evaluators said, "is ad hoc, incoherent and directionless," the Seattle Times reported.

School Prevails in English-Only Lawsuit

A federal judge ruled Friday that a Wichita Catholic school policy requiring students to speak only English didn't break any civil rights laws. But U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten criticized both sides in the lawsuit for the way they handled the conflict and characterized St. Anne Catholic School's implementation of its English-only policy as "one-sided." "It has divided a school, its church and congregation," Marten said. "It has divided the Hispanic community in its congregation. And it has touched a nerve in this community and across the nation."

Learning in Mandarin

"For math, science and history... dot dot dot... we study by ourselves," 10-year-old Katie O'Hara, pronounces each punctuation mark in her mental ellipsis with precision and elicits a laugh from her mother Nancy O'Hara. "We have art, music and P.E. with other classes." Mike O'Hara attempts to bring more clarity to his daughter's description of her Mandarin Chinese program at The International School in Portland.

PBS Launches An ABCs Offensive With New Shows

Not too long ago, I picked up my 3-year-old at day care and received a free DVD of a show I'd never heard of, called <em>Super WHY</em>. My son loved it. The animated characters on <em>Super WHY</em> all have special powers. They spell, sound out words, read simple sentences and jump inside books and look for answers to questions they have. It turns out the free DVD was part of a major initiative by the Department of Education and PBS.

U.S. Wrestler Completes a Journey From Poverty

From the "Learning the Language" blog: Don't miss <em>The New York Times</em> story about Henry Cejudo, who won the 121-pound freestyle wrestling final yesterday in the Olympics. His mom entered the United States illegally from Mexico and struggled over the years to put food on the table for her seven children.

Preschool Teachers Offered ESL Training

New Jersey's Red Bank Public School District will offer preschool teachers training to become ESL certified to meet the needs of students in its expanded preschool program. At the preschool level, about 40 percent of students in the district are eligible for bilingual and ESL services, according to Laura Morana, superintendent of schools.