ELL News Headlines

Throughout the week, Colorín Colorado gathers news headlines related to English language learners from around the country. The ELL Headlines are posted Monday through Friday and are available for free!

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As coronavirus ravaged Indian Country, the federal government failed its schools

Samantha Honani’s son hasn’t completed a school assignment in months. After his high school on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona shut down in March, he finished about three weeks of distance learning via his family’s computer. Then, in April, he stopped hearing from his teachers. Honani’s son attends Hopi Junior Senior High School, which is funded and partially overseen by the Bureau of Indian Education, an agency within the Department of the Interior that manages nearly 200 tribal K-12 schools throughout the country. Implementing distance learning for schools like Hopi High would have been difficult even under the best of circumstances — the school is located on a vast reservation where families often lack access to internet and computers. But evidence suggests that some of the blame for the struggles of BIE schools during Covid-19 lies on the shoulders of the federal government, which consistently bungled its role in helping schools adapt to remote learning and ensure that kids continued to receive an education.

Reading, Writing & Healing: Amid Widespread Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, an Ohio School for Refugees Emphasizes ‘Creating a Childhood’

In many ways, the students at Fugees Academy, housed in a church in the northern part of the city, are the same as any middle schoolers. But the students — from countries including Nepal, Burma, Congo and Iraq — also come to school with challenges totally outside the experience of the typical Columbus tween. Some arrived directly from refugee camps overseas where they received little, if any, formal education; most have been in American public elementary schools that didn’t adequately meet their needs. Lessons at this middle school often involve basics like days of the week and shapes. Staff at the Academy, a private school that students attend with vouchers, have a heavy load. They have to accommodate students’ vast academic and social-emotional needs while preparing them academically in a political climate that’s often hostile to immigrants.

Strategies for Grading ELLs in Content Classes

Five educators share suggestions for grading English-language learners in "mainstream" content classes, including emphasizing formative assessments and separating language proficiency from content knowledge.

Pandemic didn’t halt these Detroit students’ education

I teach social studies at Bridge Academy West, a public charter middle school in Detroit that primarily serves the Middle Eastern community in and around Hamtramck and Detroit. Most of my students are first- and second-generation immigrants, mostly from Yemen and Bangladesh. Almost all of our students live in poverty, most come from working class families, and 20-30% of our students are English language learners. Every day, my colleagues and I fight for our students to meet and exceed the academic standards put in front of us. Our students already start 100 meters behind the average student in the race to achieve grade-level standards, and to have three months of an educational abyss to atrophy was absolutely unacceptable. To us, this tragedy became an opportunity to help our students grow while others were struggling.

High-Interest Books & Giving Students Time to Read & Talk About Them in School

Three teachers offer their recommendations of high-interest books for students to read, including for English-learners. Susanne Marcus, an ESL educator with over 30 years of K-12 experience, explains why these four books are her favorites to teach and why her ESL students respond to them: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Newberry Award winner); Journey of the Sparrows by Fran Leeper Bus; The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; and The Arrival by Shaun Tan (wordless picture book)

How distance learning illuminates disparities among students and teachers

Distance learning proved a difficult experiment for many students, teachers and parents this year. Its urgent adoption underscored gaps in access and income. Now, school districts are scrambling to figure out how to adjust plans for the fall. We hear from viewers about their own school experiences, and NewsHour talks to Mark Bedell, superintendent of Missouri's Kansas City Public Schools.

Representation Matters in Classroom Libraries

Four teachers discuss specific titles, and common elements, in books that students find popular, including the importance of being able to see themselves in the characters.

DACA Teachers Across the Country Embrace SCOTUS Ruling Allowing Them to ‘Live, Work Without Fear’

Around the country, an estimated 20,000 educators protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — teachers, assistant teachers and those in the process of being certified — reacted to the news. María Rocha, a second-grade teacher in San Antonio who came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 3, said she felt a surge of gratitude. Enedina Manríquez, an ESL teacher in Omaha, Nebraska, accepted congratulatory texts from her friends. Oscar Hernandez, a fifth-grade teacher in Phoenix, said he felt a sense of agony lift. Denise Panaligan, a middle school special education teacher in Los Angeles, reached out to share the good news with two of her former students, who are now eligible to apply for DACA for the first time.

A Look Back at How Undocumented Children Won the Right to Attend U.S. Schools

The fight over the rights of undocumented students has its origins in Tyler, a northeast Texas city where municipal leaders feared their school system would be overrun with immigrant families and students. In 1977, to curb school enrollment, the school board demanded that undocumented students pay $1,000 per year in tuition because were not "legally admitted" to the U.S. The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund sued the district, arguing that the policy essentially barred immigrant students from school, because few of their families could afford the fee. As director of education litigation at MALDEF, attorney Peter Roos filed a motion to block the district from denying enrollment to the children as the Plyler case winded through years of appeals before reaching the Supreme Court. Roos talked with Education Week recently about his recollections about Plyler v. Doe and the relevance of the case today.

English-Language Learners Need More Support During Remote Learning

Young children who are learning English require special consideration during virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 1 in 6 children in kindergarten and 1st grade in the United States are learning English as a second (or third) language. As teachers grapple with the monumental task of providing remote instruction to English-language learners, it’s important that state and district leaders provide extensive support and clear guidelines for engaging their ELLs. As state and district leaders consider outreach through email, phone calls, and physical copies of instructional resources for providing equitable access to possible remote instruction when schools reopen, we offer the following evidence-informed suggestions for consideration.