In North Carolina, Charlotte's growing diversity will soon become more colorful, with the start of work on the city's largest publicly funded Latino art project. Called "Home Sweet Home," the 9-foot-high, 25-foot-long mural on canvas is intended to depict the immigrant experience of straddling two cultures. It is funded by a new Arts & Science Council initiative that seeks to encourage Latinos to share their culture with the community, and Latino students from four city schools will help with the painting. The work will also be taped by filmmaker Catalina Echeverry for a documentary on the experiences of Charlotte's Latino population through the eyes of its children.
A wave of teaching children foreign languages in schools from an early age has emerged nationally as well as in Washington's Puget Sound area. Due to the region's extensive diversity, many of the area schools focus on the non-English speaking students by offering immersion programs such as English Language Learners (ELL), and the exposure to other languages for English speakers is reserved for high school students. Now, due to the growth of cultural diversity in the region, local school districts have implemented language immersion programs where children are being taught in English for half of the day and in a different language for the other half to encourage bilingual acquisition.
Educators in Illinois' Diamond Lake District 76 were filled with pride when the state's top school official praised them recently for academic improvement. A few weeks later, though, the district got a different kind of feedback from the state. Officials were told to comply with the state's bilingual education program, or lose a $175,000 grant. Lawmakers and school leaders are scheduled to talk about the issue in coming weeks. At issue, local officials say, is a lack of enough bilingual teachers to meet the state's requirements.
A steady influx of immigrants has fueled the need for teachers with English-language-learner training, state and local districts say. ELL students made up 9 percent of the students in the state in 2006, up from 3.5 percent in 1990, according to a recent report. The demand for ELL teachers is greatest in districts in Eastern Washington, where, in some schools, more than half the students are Hispanic.
On Friday morning, a first-grader at Johnson Elementary School read a book aloud by himself for the first time. As an English-language acquisition student, this student's first language is not English, and he started his first-grade year at Johnson with less than a kindergarten reading level. It's the sort of improvement that Colorado's Poudre School District is looking for as it tries to boost the percentage of third-graders who read at grade level or beyond. The school's principal attributed the gains that first-grader has made, as well as reading improvements throughout the school, to an increased emphasis this year on individual and small-group reading sessions for all grade levels.
This editorial from the bilingual newspaper <em>El Diario</em> discusses Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed public school budget cuts and their effect on ELLs: "If advocates for communities that have long been disadvantaged are upset, it is with reason. The public schools that are being hit the hardest are those with large numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs), according to the New York Immigration Coalition. A $5 million city cut to a teacher reserve for ELLs would double next year."
How best can we educate an ever more diverse set of kids in the classroom? We actually do have many good answers based on serious research from a whole variety of fields including anthropology, sociology, social history, psychology, applied linguistics, and pedagogy (education). We know that a student often begins at a disadvantage when there is a difference between that youngster's home language and culture and the school's language of instruction and culture. However, this beginning disadvantage for a culturally distinct youngster can be turned into plus for everyone.
The number of Latinos dropping out of high school has been cut in half during the past 25 years, but great disparity remains when it comes to their college graduation rates, according to a study from the Pew Hispanic Center. Richard Fry, the center's senior research associate, said Anglo students continue to be twice as likely to graduate from college as Hispanics.
Bigger kindergarten classes, fewer counselors, and less support for new teachers and English Language Learner programs are among the proposals to cut nearly $11 million from the Escondido elementary district's budget next year. Trustees for the Escondido Union School District must consider an array of reductions, including cutting 45 teachers, 10 counselors, and eight assistant principals, to offset losses in state funding and other factors.
Iowa's West Hancock Community School district held a Spanish Family Night for the first time event last Friday night for Hispanic families with children enrolled in the school. The event brought students, parents, and educators together for a light-hearted evening of fun, food, and understanding. District staff wrote and received a state grant that uses Title III funds, which provides resources to states and local school districts to address the educational needs of English language learners.