If her native tongue was one commonly spoken in the U.S. instead of the less familiar Khmer, Thana Ouk might have more help at school. But Thana, a junior at Roosevelt High School, is Cambodian and can find few services tailored to her needs. Instead, she falls under the broad umbrella of "Asian" for public school funding and testing purposes. Because many families of Asian heritage are well-educated and have comparative material advantages, and because students in the broad Asian category often perform as well as or better than white students on standardized tests, resources are scarce for Asians who are struggling in public schools.
King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA is in the midst of a five-year, grant-funded effort trying to offer a smattering of help to Northeastern Pennsylvania's exploding Hispanic population. The program is serving people from Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and other countries, and includes assistance to adults hoping to take GED tests, as well as after-school mentoring for students at local high schools. The program is expected to add adult computer classes and middle school creative writing classes. "The goal," said the program's director, "is to build bridges."
Each year, Nashville's public school system invests $15 million into the English Language Learners program. With a diverse student body that continues to expand that dollar amount may grow in the future. More than 6,000 students across the district are enrolled in the program, and about 150 different languages are spoken throughout the district.
A surge in immigrants anxious to learn English has created an unexpected lineup for language classes in Ontario, with dozens left waiting for weeks. Observers say the spike could be the result of manufacturing job losses among immigrants who never formally learned the language, and more refugee claimants.
<a href="http://www.breakthrough.tv/" target="_blank">Breakthrough</a>, an international human rights organization, put out a curriculum guide this week to correspond with its free video game: <a href="http://www.breakthrough.tv/product_detail.asp?proid=92&id=7" target="_blank">"ICED: I Can End Deportation."</a> In the game, players take on the role of one of five immigrant teens — and see what they encounter in day-to-day life. The 115-page curriculum guide, which Breakthrough says it has aligned with New York State and New York City social studies and English-language-arts standards, takes the position that current U.S. immigration laws deny due process for immigrants. The guide suggests that teachers can use the game and curriculum to teac a 10-day unit on "Fair Immigration Laws and Human Rights."
The Southeast's growing Hispanic population will force schools to focus more attention on Spanish-speaking students as K-12 systems work to meet federal No Child Left Behind act requirements. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, an education policy think-tank, the number of Hispanic public high school students is expected to continue to grow, particularly at the high school level. The SREB says high school enrollment of Hispanic students in the region will more than double between 2008 and 2022. Florida, Georgia, and Texas are expected to see the most growth. Alabama is in the middle tier of Hispanic student population growth, along with Delaware and Virginia.
What was once primarily a waiting time has become "word time" at a Tennessee elementary school for 17 students from foreign-speaking families and 13 other students who are having difficulty with reading. From about 7:10 to 7:45 each morning, three teacher assistants gather the youngsters in a room at the school where they work on word skills. They sit as a group and watch phonics videos, speaking the words as they appear on the screen. During the sessions, each of the teacher assistants pulls individual students from the larger group to give them reinforcement with words on flash cards.
Bilingual education is making a splash in North Carolina's McDowell County. The district's superintendent has announced the beginning of a new language immersion program for kindergarteners. Starting in July, some kindergarten classes at a local school will be structured around the Splash program. Splash works through the concept of language immersion, that is, by placing the English-speaking child into a Spanish-only classroom. All lessons and activities, indeed all communication in the classroom, are conducted in Spanish.
Though proposed revisions to the Texas public school English curriculum has raised controversy across the state, some educators say the changes are no big deal. Longview Independent School District's curriculum chief says the proposed revisions are similar to what teachers already are using. Despite a plea from state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, that Latino experts first be allowed to review the proposal, the State Board of Education is scheduled to take a preliminary vote today of the revised English language arts and reading standards. Herrero wants to ensure the revisions are conducive to learning for Hispanic students.
Five years ago, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor saved affirmative action in public college admissions when she crafted the majority decision affirming the consideration of race in admissions by the University of Michigan's law school. While O'Connor found justifications for the (limited) consideration of race and ethnicity, she also spoke of the need for such consideration to stop at some point. "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today," she wrote. The American Educational Research Association assembled a group of leading scholars Tuesday to consider the current state of affirmative action, but found themselves returning again and again to O'Connor's predictions.