Jon Schuhl, Tigard High School's new principal, said in college he grappled with what it is like to struggle to learn in a second language. Schuhl sees his role as principal as trying to connect students, their families and the community to the school. That must be done while being an instructional leader and making seemingly trivial matters like the bell schedule work better.
College life, for any undergraduate student, is often met with challenges that can sometimes seem larger than life. Those same challenges can be even more burdensome for undocumented immigrants on campuses across the U.S. Kent Wong, editor of <em>Underground Undergrads</em> and director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, is joined by Mariana Zamboni, who attended college as an undocumented immigrant. The two discuss how the nation's immigration debate, for some students, shapes the college experience.
Reforming the No Child Left Behind Act to promote higher accountability standards for the nation's high schools, inclusive and equitable testing and culture-based curricula may help stem the wave of minority high school student dropouts and shrink the achievement gap, a panel of educators and activists said at a LULAC meeting here this week. Every year, approximately 1.2 million students drop out of high school. The dropout rate for Hispanic students is more than 40 percent, and for Blacks it hovers at 50 percent. Underrepresented minorities, in general, have less than a 58 percent chance of graduating high school with a regular diploma. This inequality can be reversed by reforming No Child Left Behind (NCLB), education advocates say.
Last month, the Dallas Morning News published a series about illegal immigrant Hispanic students at a Dallas high school. The stories are largely about the students' struggles to learn English, pass their classes and stay in school. The stories make a compelling read, but they glossed over the more important story: thousands of students in the state of Texas who are classified as limited English speakers were born in the U.S. The majority of them are Hispanic children and low-income.
Perhaps no topic has as thoroughly vexed officials who oversee the nation's leading test of academic progress as the wide variation among states and cities in the proportion of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency whom they exclude from taking the exam or provide with special accommodations for it.
"Nuh ton hova di piepa til mi tell yuh we fi du," a teacher at the Hope Valley Experimental School, St Andrew, told her students before the beginning of an examination. Under other circumstances, this reporter would have been taken aback because it is not supposed to be the norm for classroom teachers to speak to children in Creole. However, this was the norm in some sessions for this grade-four class, which is part of the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) at the University of the West Indies Bilingual Education Project, which started in 2004 and is scheduled to end this year.
Seventeen-year-old Luis Pena has few doubts about his plans after high school. "Harvard," he says emphatically. "Or MIT." He wasn't always so confident. A year ago, when Pena and his family left the Dominican Republic for Ellicott City, he assumed college was beyond his reach. But midway through a Towson University workshop sponsored by the Hispanic College Fund yesterday, he proclaimed that such prestigious colleges were worth shooting for.
Nearly all states continue to struggle in meeting the No Child Left Behind Act's academic targets for English-language learners in mathematics and reading, according to the latest analysis released by the U.S. Department of Education.
Randi Weingarten, the New Yorker who is rising to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, says she wants to replace President Bush's focus on standardized testing with a vision of public schools as community centers that help poor students succeed by offering not only solid classroom lessons but also medical and other services.
The language wars flare up whenever insecure Americans worry that English is becoming <em>passé</em>. It's a cultural paranoia that is laughably off the mark. According to research, children of immigrants stand a better chance of losing their native language and speaking only English than never learning English at all. Still, it's a fear that is resistant to facts. I ought to know. I've seen it up close.