A $40.6 million funding boost to help schools educate students who are learning English isn't adding up for Patricia Marsh, a school superintendent in southern Arizona. The legislation approved this month means Marsh will get more money. But she says it's not enough to implement the state mandates that go with the funding, particularly a requirement that so-called English Language Learners should be separated from other students for daily four-hour immersion periods.
In this column for the Los Angles Times, contributing editor Gustavo Arellano writes, "Last week, Fullerton City Councilman Shawn Nelson stated during a council meeting that the city should remove a set of 1970s-era murals on a pedestrian overpass spanning a stretch of Lemon Street just south of Valencia Drive. Nelson claimed that the depictions — classic lowriders, sultry girls in sombreros and fedoras, stylish <em>pachucos</em>, and the Virgin of Guadalupe — might make people think Fullerton sanctions gang activity…(but the murals are) important in reminding county residents of its Mexican American past, one that saw immigrants anonymously harvest O.C.'s lucrative citrus crop while being forced to live in segregated neighborhoods, an aspect of county history that's largely absent from any official narratives."
Some students from Thailand continue to learn about the U.S. firsthand in an exchange program offered at Wisconsin's Wausau West High School. Five Thai students and a teacher arrived in Wisconsin on April 11 for a 2 1/2 week stay as part of the Thailand-Wisconsin International Sunrise Program. One student was surprised to see small class discussions and teachers looking for student input. In Thailand, his school has an average class size of 55 students.
AT&T Inc. today announced plans to commit $100 million over four years to help reduce the dropout rate in U.S. high schools and better prepare students for college and the workforce. The effort is being billed as the company's largest single philanthropic commitment to date.
Undergraduates at the University of Maryland at College Park can now graduate with a minor in U.S. Latino studies after school officials recently approved the first such minor at a major university in the Washington region. Students and faculty members, some of whom have been promoting U.S. Latino studies at Maryland's flagship public university for a decade, said they were delighted by the move but said more needs to be done to meet the needs of historically underserved Latino students.
Sonya Gonzales wanted to volunteer in her son's classroom, but when she approached the school's front door, she froze. "She got to the door and turned around. She forgot the words," explained teacher Diana Ayala. Gonzales, who arrived from Mexico City eight months ago, forgot how to say in English that she was at the school to volunteer in her son's bilingual classroom when the secretary came on the intercom to buzz her into the school. After taking a Parents as Educational Partner course offered by her son's school district about the ins and outs of the public education and school procedures, however, Gonzales knew what to say and do the next time she went to the school to sign up as a parent volunteer.
Dora the Explorer just might be the first icon for the children of a new America — a country that is today about 14 percent Latino. This story, part of NPR's In Character series, looks at how TV channel Nickelodeon set about to create a character who could motivate kids to ask questions and participate.
Manuel Ventura, a senior at Bell Multicultural Senior High School in the District, came to the United States from El Salvador only five years ago. But last May, like every other junior at his high school, he took one of the most difficult English exams in the country: Advanced Placement English Literature. Next month, he expects again to join all of his classmates in taking another demanding exam: AP English Language and Composition. Last year, Bell Multicultural became the first public high school in the Washington, DC area to require all students to take college-level AP courses and exams. The mandate is all the more remarkable because its two required AP courses are both in English, and most of Bell's students are, like Ventura, from low-income families in which English is not the first language.
Minnesota's St. James School Board listened to parents and staff, and did not approve changes recommended by the administration that would reduce costs but increase class sizes. When the superintendent offered three options to the board that would not cut staff, but would reduce the number of sections in next year's fifth and sixth grades and create bigger class sizes, parents pointed out that their class has a high number of ESL and special needs students, and they said classes of that size would be too disruptive for their students.
A town hall meeting on the state-mandated English Language Learners law will be held by Sunnyside Unified School District officials this evening. District officials will present an alternative to the Arizona Legislature's plan for English language development in non-native English speakers. The plan adheres to the Legislature's required four-hour block of English language development daily for students identified as English-language learners, but only two hours of that would be with the ELL students segregated by English proficiency. During the final two hours, the ELL students would be together across proficiency levels, so the less skilled can learn from the more skilled, and math and science would be taught during those two hours.