This year for the first time English language learners took the same Illinois Standards Achievement Test as other students did. Results released today show many of these students scored poorly on the reading portion of the test. That was enough to get 69 schools state wide labeled as failing. West suburban Elgin took it hard — almost half of the district's elementary schools didn't meet the mark. This means that Elgin may need to rethink how it's educating students who aren't fluent in English.
The head of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville said the state must do everything it can to encourage more students to seek bachelor's degrees — including possibly offering undocumented immigrants the lower tuition rates given to residents. University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart stopped just short of endorsing a possible measure by an incoming state senator that would give in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. However, the head of the Fayetteville university said most higher education officials want to be "frankly forgiving if we can" when it comes to students living without documentation in the state.
In this letter to Senators McCain and Obama, Harold L. Sirkin, a Chicago-based senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group and author, writes, "Clearly one of your challenges as the next President is to revive American education. The key is not how much we spend, but spending smarter. If we don't, America will find itself falling further behind those countries that can and do properly educate their children. And we will have to import more talent, a challenge in a global economy already struggling with talent shortages."
School district leaders urged their colleagues last week to make concrete plans for taking care of students whose parents have been picked up in workplace raids by federal immigration agents. As the federal government focuses on employers who hire large numbers of undocumented immigrants, school districts with large immigrant populations will see more students' lives disrupted by the sudden disappearance of one or both parents, said superintendents, school board members, and a policy analyst who spoke about the raids at a recent panel discussion at the Council of the Great City Schools' annual conference.
The number of Hispanic children attending Missouri's Branson and Hollister schools has nearly doubled in the last few years with no sign of slowing down. Branson educators agree that continual communication with parents and family members of Hispanic students is important. "We don't offer bilingual instruction," said Bradly Allen, director of federal programs for Branson schools. "However, we do offer bilingual support. We are reaching out to the Hispanic community and providing Spanish-speaking families with documents in their native language for better communication."
Call it the Hispanic baby boom. Fertility has surpassed immigration as the primary factor in the United States' Latino population growth, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released on Thursday. "We are now seeing secondary repercussions," said Richard Fry, a senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center. "A large group of second-generation kids are having a big impact on the school system, and as they mature, it will affect voting and the labor market."
Marta Torres speaks English clearly. She is proud to be a U.S. citizen. But her native language is Spanish. She was born in Mexico and moved to California in adulthood. It took hard work to learn her new language, and she continues to take classes. She studied for her citizenship test and passed. Torres, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in South St. Louis, is an example of the many new Americans who are encouraged and helped by their parishes and by Catholic agencies to learn English and become citizens.
Test results show that students enrolled in an Idaho county school district's two-language program outperform their counterparts in English-only classes. Recently released test results show that both Hispanic and non-Hispanic students in the district's Dual Immersion program continue to become more proficient at reading and math the longer they are enrolled in the program. By the sixth grade, Hispanic students especially outperform other Hispanic students who do not have the benefit of a two-language program.
Elizabeth Gaupo of Salem, an elementary teacher and the mother of two school-age children, writes in this column, "Measure 58's potential effects should concern everyone, no matter your views on bilingual education. It will mean an influx of second-language learners into the regular classroom who may not be proficient in English. It will be a huge drain on teachers, many of whom may not have been trained to work with second-language learners, and will mean less time and attention for other students. It will also cost the state nearly half a billion dollars the first two years alone — funds diverted from other educational programs."
Dr. Rosalie Pedalino Porter, the author of <em>Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual Education</em>, writes in this column, "Tough problems require strong solutions. Oregon's non-English-speaking school children are not getting the education they are entitled to by federal and state laws. These children are not given enough help in learning English — large numbers still unable to do classroom work in English after five or six years in Oregon schools. Measure 58 calls for changing the priorities, not for increasing spending as the opposition shouts at every opportunity."