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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Gillibrand Hints at a Change of Mind on Immigration

Kirsten E. Gillibrand, New York's new senator, suggested to Latino elected officials on Sunday that she would take the lead on some immigration issues — and perhaps quickly drop some positions that they considered objectionable. In particular, she promised to take a lead in promoting a Congressional bill to roll back a federal provision that discourages states from charging in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants who attend state-supported universities. The bill also would permit illegal immigrants who have grown up in the United States and are attending college to apply for legal status.

Curb on Arabic Use Urged, but Rejected, in Dearborn District

The Dearborn, Mich., school district's superintendent moved quickly to clarify the system's language policy last week after a consultant said officials should "prohibit the use of any language other than English," except when necessary for communication with parents, at a high school with many students of Arab heritage. Superintendent Brian Whiston said in an interview last week that it was unfortunate that the report on high school operations, which he had commissioned from the Michigan Leadership Institute, an educational consulting firm based in Mission, Mich., singled out the Arab population and Arabic language.

Language Effort Puts Oklahoma Teachers in Learning Seat

English teacher Jennifer Owens wants to hear all her students' stories. Owens said she's now more aware of students in her class who are learning to speak English and how hearing their stories can help them learn better. The English teacher is one of a group from Putnam City West High School receiving training with the Oklahoma Education Association to help fellow teachers better serve students who are learning English. The training focuses not just on keeping students' cultures alive but also on making each student feel like a valuable part of the classroom, said Adria Smith, an Oklahoma Education Association teaching and learning specialist.

For an Undocumented Immigrant, Getting into UCLA Was the Easy Part

Karina De La Cruz wakes up in the dark on her first day of classes at UCLA. De La Cruz faces fairy tale odds. She's an undocumented immigrant, so she isn't eligible for most forms of state and federal financial aid. The University of California system, by policy, does not require applicants to disclose their citizenship status: Officials say their goal is to find the best students, not to enforce immigration law. UCLA officials say they aren't even sure how many undocumented students are on their campus.

Florida Education Cuts: Three Perspectives

School districts around the country are anxious to see whether or not Congress will send part of the economic stimulus their way. Some 19 states have had to cut funding for K-12 education this past year. One cash-strapped system — the Orange County Public School District in central Florida — is anticipating a $102 million budget cut next year. Superintendent Ronald Blocker, Camelot Elementary School science teacher Richard Ellenburg, and Orange County PTA president Stacey Rodrigues talk to host Jacki Lyden about the cuts and the stimulus package.

Biliterate Is the New Bilingual

McGill students seeking to integrate themselves into Quebec culture should strive for biliteracy, not simply bilingualism, according to a recent report released by a Quebec community group that represents the anglo minority in Quebec. The report, Creating Spaces, was commissioned by the Quebec Community Group Network, and called biliteracy "a powerful tool to tackle many multi-faceted barriers English-speakers face in participating fully in Quebec society." It also declared full biliteracy for Quebec youth as one of its top goals.

James J. Lyons Returns to Role as Advocate for ELLs

In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "James J. Lyons, a former executive director of the National Association for Bilingual Education, is back in town after an absence of a decade and is speaking out about issues concerning English-language learners. He was the executive director of NABE from 1989-1998."

Mariachi Gives Students Hope for Future

Mariachi music, long a tradition of Mexican culture, is finding its way into music education in schools across the United States. According to the National Association for Music Education, mariachi music programs are especially popular in southwest states with large Hispanic communities, and school officials note the programs appear to be having a positive effect on students' achievement and self-esteem.

Business Brisk at Libraries During Bad Times

Nearly every study table is full with patrons sipping lattes and surfing the Web at the library in Germantown, MD. Teens are curled up in easy chairs. In a worried knot by the doorway, job seekers gather around a sign-up station for the Internet, waiting for their turn. The library, like most in the Washington, DC area, has had a rising tide of users as patrons look for free computer access, DVD loans, and activities for children during the recession. Circulation in the last six months of the year rose as much as 23 percent in libraries around the region, records show.