Five Texas education leaders are proposing college or workplace readiness as the standard for all high school graduates in their plan to improve public education. They also advocate a better accountability system, more money to improve student performance, and a shared partnership between the state and local school districts. The education leaders have often disagreed on education ideas but drafted a framework of shared principles they believe can serve as a starting ground for continued debate.
Ben Storer, a senior at New Hampshire's Nashua High School North, writes in this column, "Although America is a land of immigrants, throughout history, many Americans have hesitated to welcome newcomers. Even today, many want immigrants and refugees to assimilate quickly and are ambivalent about accommodations they believe might slow down the Americanization of new arrivals. Nevertheless, the Nashua School District is doing its part to help young arrivals prepare for their future in America. The English Language Learner program aims to help young immigrants quickly learn to speak and write English."
A Mexican immigrant gardener in the Bay Area has just been awarded a $100,000 National Purpose Prize for his work raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to send Hispanic kids to college. Catalino Tapia saved all his money to send his son to college. When his son graduated, he got the idea to create Bay Area Gardeners Foundation to help other Hispanic youth get a college education.
Phoenix resident Guadalupe Garcia has lived in the United States for nearly 35 years, but she still doesn't speak English well. Her situation is the kind that fuels perceptions that recent waves of Spanish-speaking immigrants, unlike earlier waves of immigrants, are reluctant to learn English. But new research turns that assumption on its head.
With the number of students in the English Language Learners group in Massachusetts' Gill-Montague Regional School District increasing, the School Department has had to increase teaching hours to reach state-mandated requirement for the program. The half-time English Language Learners teacher position was increased to full-time as of this month to bring the district and its five schools into compliance with state mandates.
Classmates Even Yaaqoub and Maryam Bkla know they're safe at Michigan's Sterling Heights High School. That wasn't the case in their native Baghdad. Classes were canceled for Even when bombings were too close — he remembers hearing the explosions while in class. Maryam says everyone in Iraq knows someone who's been injured or killed in the violence that's followed the U.S. invasion. Similar stories are told by the hundreds of Iraqis who've resettled in metro Detroit during the last two years as the United States finally opened to these refugees of the war in Iraq.
In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Oregon has become the latest state to stop using an alternative test for English-language learners because federal education officials have questioned its comparability with the state's regular test. A number of states have already dropped alternative tests for English-language learners for the same reason. Some educators in Illinois are still upset that the state dropped the use of its simplified English test for ELLs. This is the first time that I've heard of a state having to suspend the use of a Spanish-language test for ELLs."
Cody Xu came to Ridgefield, CT last year when his family moved from China. He was 15, spoke Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, but could only count to 10 and say a few words in English. "I wondered if other students appreciated how well I knew the subject when I'd answer in class," Cody said recently, noting his poor command of English made it impossible for him to fully convey his knowledge. For Cody and other English Language Learners, coming to a new culture with a new language has been a challenge.
As public colleges grapple with reductions in state funding, the prospect of reduced access to higher education is looking more likely. Meanwhile, hefty tuition increases are on the drawing boards in many states, while private student lending has shrunk sharply amid a broader credit crunch. Together, the pressures are threatening to restrict access to higher education at a time when the economic crisis is driving more Americans to seek new degrees or additional training, a common reaction in a downturn.
Excelencia in Education's latest report stemmed from a simple premise. "Who's enrolling and who's graduating Latino students in this country?" Deborah A. Santiago, vice president for policy and research, asked and answered Thursday at a briefing on the policy group's new report, <em>Accelerating Latino Student Success at Texas Border Institutions: Possibilities and Challenges</em>. The report considers four community colleges and four public universities where Hispanic enrollment tops 75 percent.