Stolen shopping carts collect behind Indian Creek Apartment Homes. In good weather, Nyo Nyo spends hours pushing her 2-year-old around the parking lot in one, her skirt flapping, his head high, like a prince surveying his realm. His mother is less at home in the country that took her family in four years ago, when they arrived in the Atlanta suburbs from Burma (Myanmar) by way of a Thai refugee camp. "The problem, she says, is language. "No English," she apologizes, and calls to the oldest of her three kids, on the playground outside their apartment.
In 2000, Nebraska's McCook Public Schools had no children documented as English Language Learners. Four years later, in 2004, Carolyn Klimper's job helping 10 or so McCook students who were learning English as their second language started as a side job. In the past three years, Klimper's ESL has become full-time teaching and supervisory, and the school's program involves two paraprofessionals who teach 40-some Spanish-speaking students and one Chinese-speaking student at McCook's four attendance centers.
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Twenty-five years ago this week, <em>Education Week</em> published several stories about the rise of bilingual education in this country and how, even then, the educational method was running into political problems … Interestingly, according to the <em>EdWeek</em> article, it was former president Richard M. Nixon's administration that pushed for use of bilingual instruction as a legal remedy in cases where school districts were found not to be adequately educating students with limited proficiency in English."
Tonya Groover was a tomboy as a young girl, so she hasn't felt uncomfortable as one of the few women and one of the few black students studying computer science at the University of Pittsburgh. Now she is among those trying to address the national issue of a lack of diversity — both women and underrepresented minorities such as blacks and Hispanics — in some of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, known as STEM.
Nancy Maria Grande Tabor spoke fluent Spanish as she discussed cultural heritage and diversity among a group of Hispanic children during a recent visit to Alabama's Weeden Elementary School. All of Tabor's eight children's books are bilingual writings with a common theme: Appreciating and celebrating each other's diversity.
They call it <em>la escuelita</em>, the little school. The young mothers go there for lessons in English and parenting. The center, across the street from Riverside Elementary School in Little Havana, started out simply as a place for immigrant parents to learn English.
Since then, however, it has become much more for the community.
Arizona's state schools chief Tom Horne is cutting by three-quarters the funds paid to schools to help students learn English. Horne said Wednesday he believes the schools can meet their legal requirements with just $8.8 million in extra financing from the state next school year. That compares with $40.6 million provided this school year.
In a converted gym locker room of a Wisconsin school, Dr. Yolo Diaz sees kids who might not otherwise receive care. They're uninsured children — mostly Hispanic — who need everything from checkups to asthma treatment as well as help fighting depression. Green Bay school officials are experimenting with in-school medical clinics with the goal of reducing absenteeism and keeping kids in school.
A leading California foundation recently announced a broad campaign to help Los Angeles immigrants become more active citizens with a new $3.75-million, five-year program to help them learn English, improve job skills and increase civic participation. The California Community Foundation in Los Angeles also is set to release a 75-page report that documents the essential and dynamic role immigrants play in the regional economy and suggests ways to help them become even more productive.
Andrea Marquina's decision to take Advanced Placement English was easy — it looks good on a transcript, she said. The high school junior, whose first language was Spanish, is an example of the statewide trend of minorities increasingly taking AP courses, according to a College Board report released Wednesday. The study shows a 35 percent increase in Hispanic students in Tennessee taking at least one AP exam and a 9 percent increase for black students.