A voluntary tutoring program that kicks off just as the weather is getting nice is a recipe for low attendance, right? Wrong, at least not at this public housing complex in Taunton, MA. "That's the miracle," said Eric Coury, a seventh-grade social studies teacher. Coury and another teacher help kids from kindergartners to twelfth graders with their homework in the complex's community center each afternoon so that children who don't have transportation can still get the extra help they need.
After three degrees, five universities, and 40,000 pupils, John Kuhlman has circumnavigated his way back to the essentials of education: a teacher and a student in a room. Mr. Kuhlman is a volunteer teacher at an adult English-literacy program in North Carolina. What is often surprising to students when they first meet him is that the professor is almost deaf. According to Mr. Kuhlman, however, this disability enables an affinity. "A deaf person, a person with damaged hearing, is exactly like a Spanish speaker or a Chinese speaker in a room full of English speakers," Mr. Kuhlman put it. "If I'm in a room for a cocktail party, I can hear everything, but I can't understand a word. So I'm pretty good at understanding their problem. I've got empathy, sympathy, patience."
Viviana Torres, a 6-year-old first-grader at Illinois' Fairhaven School, is learning about the life cycle of chickens. What's unique is that Vivian, and the other native Spanish speakers in the bilingual program, are doing it primarily in English. Officials at Vivian's school district wants the state to allow districts more flexibility regarding how they teach students who speak limited English. "We would like bilingual education to be optional, not mandatory," said Superintendent Roger Prosise. "If a district like our district finds another program that works, which our program does, we should be able to use that program without losing funding."
Four Hispanic families are suing St. Anne's Catholic School in Wichita, KS over a policy that requires students to speak English at all times while at school. The lawsuit, filed Monday, calls for an end to the policy and asks for an order barring similar policies at other diocese schools. It seeks the return of one student to the school who was allegedly kicked out for refusing to sign the "English only" pledge. And it asks for court costs and unspecified damages for discrimination and emotional suffering. "Language is an essential characteristic of one's national origin," according to the complaint filed in the case. "The ban on Spanish at St. Anne's created an atmosphere of intimidation, inferiority, and isolation for Hispanic students."
Sayuri Flores, whose husband does drywall installation, and her family recently moved to Louisiana from Phoenix to pursue construction work based on the word of family living here. New opportunities also mean new challenges, though, and Flores took steps earlier this month to ensure her 4-year-old, Vanessa, is not impeded. She was one of several parents at a local elementary school who recently signed up students for a proposed dual-language pre-kindergarten program organized by school system officials, Head Start officials, and Southeastern Louisiana University education researchers.
Efforts to improve the language skills of young English learners in Greenfield, CA are paying off, with a 300 percent boost in Greenfield Elementary Students achieving proficiency this year. About 50 proud parents and friends gathered in the Greenfield Elementary School cafeteria in April for an evening celebration honoring 24 third- through fifth-graders who have — by district and state standards — become fluent in English. Last year, only eight such students graduated from the ELL program.
Rosario Sandoval recalled a childhood memory of her parents giving her two choices: either follow their path of working the agriculture fields of California or go to college. She chose college, and on Friday evening, Sandoval took part in University of the Pacific's first Latino graduation ceremony hosted in English and Spanish, a day before the schoolwide commencement.
School officials in Postville, Iowa, were still working last week to cope with the logistical and emotional aftermath of a raid on a local meatpacking plant by federal immigration authorities that left some students' parents in custody and tensions high in the local Latino community.
Just inside the front doors of Arkansas' Tillery Elementary School, 12 computers on child-sized desks line the walls under the train murals. Every few minutes, a group of 12 students comes into the area and sits on the floor, waiting to see where their name will pop up on one of the computer screens. When they see their name and picture on the screen, it's time to sit down and start learning. Tests results are not yet in for this school year, but with another month of school to go, almost all the first graders at Tillery are working at or above grade level. This is particularly impressive since many of those students are English Language Learners.
Princeton University is currently reviewing a proposal to offer a Latino studies program, an issue that has been on the administration's table for more than 10 years. If approved, the Latino studies program may be available to students as soon as two years from now. The program, which will now focus on the experience of Latinos in the United States, would be different from the existing program in Latin American studies.