Long associated with images of dorky vests and singalongs around the campfire, the 97-year-old Girl Scouts of the USA is trying to become cool. Or at least cooler. With enrollment dropping sharply, the organization is experimenting with a total makeover of the Girl Scout experience. What's in: books and blogs written in girls' voices on topics such as environmental awareness and engineering; troops led by college students; videoconferencing with scouts in other countries. The organization is also increasing outreach to immigrant parents and children.
The light green eyes of the 10-year-old boy become alert as soon as someone says a word he recognizes. Samer Salem, known as Sam to his classmates at Horizon Elementary, came to the United States from Iraq in December. Salem enrolled at Ohio's Hilliard Elementary School in early January, joining Joan Cruickshank's fourth-grade class. Cruickshank, knowing that Salem was coming into her class knowing a few letters in English, grabbed an Arabic dictionary and began hanging small signs around the room to identify items in his native language.
For sixth-grader Esmeralda Brown, 12, two unpleasant but sometimes necessary processes, "nacionalización" (nationalization) and "quimioterapia" (chemotherapy) spelled victory at the recent Las Cruces Spanish spelling bee. "I was less nervous this year," said Brown, who finished third last year but was the only bilingual winner. "Every day, I would practice (words from) three letters of the alphabet. This last week, I would study all the advanced words."
By explicitly naming education as one of three top priority areas in his first joint congressional address and in his first federal budget proposal, President Obama is putting considerable political weight — and even more money — behind the agenda he laid out during his campaign.
Finding qualified and certified bilingual instructors has been a difficult task for Texas' Marshall Independent School District — so much so, that school officials, since 2006, have spent close to $9,000 on recruiting qualified bilingual teachers outside of the country.
Teachers struggling to instruct ever-growing numbers of children who don't speak English have found that singing with their students hits the right note. Throughout California's central San Joaquin Valley, for example, where one in four students are still learning English, singing is a proven technique to expand children's vocabulary. Nevertheless, although there is growing research on pairing songs with learning English, music instruction in elementary schools is declining because of budget cuts and pressure on teachers to focus on math and English.
Lourdes Villanueva's parents were migrant workers who harvested fruit throughout the South. Recently, she told her son Roger what it was like in the 1960s trying to get an education while her family was constantly on the move. Villanueva says that everywhere her family went, even if they only planned to stay and pick crops for a month or so, her mother made sure to enroll the children in school.
The best advice Gloria Rodarte could give parents is to get involved. "In any which way possible," she said through a translator. "Go to your child's school, but not to ask 'What's going on?' But rather 'What can I do to help?"' Parent involvement was the focus of Wednesday's Ontario-Montclair School District's 35th annual Parent Leadership Conference 'Working Together for a Better Future.'
Many Hispanic students in Illinois, particularly in high school, have struggled with state tests, like the ISAT and PSAE. Lourdes Ferrer would like to change that. Ferrer, a nationally known expert in Hispanic educational achievement, recently spoke at Hester Junior High School in Franklin Park, IL about ways Hispanic students can succeed.
President Obama said in his address to Congress Tuesday that education is one of his top priorities. He's offering up $115 billion toward schools in his stimulus package. However, local school officials say that money may not be enough.