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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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.

Ivy League Aspirations

One hot summer day in 2001, Susan Schaeffler, a 30-year-old D.C. teacher, was in the basement of an Anacostia church, getting blisters assembling classroom furniture while explaining to me why her new public charter school would be different from other ill-fated educational experiments. She said the first class of students recruited for the KIPP DC: KEY Academy middle school would not be called fifth graders, but the class of 2009. Her father, helping with the furniture, said: "Oh, I get it. That's the year they will graduate from high school." "No, Dad," Schaeffler said, giving him a stern look. "That's the year they are going to college."

College Programs Aim to Ensure Students' Dreams Stay on Course

Against all odds, 24-year-old Rosa Esparza of Garland will graduate in May with the first nursing class at Mountain View College in Dallas. Mountain View College, which has the largest Hispanic student enrollment of any college in North Texas, is one of a handful of Hispanic-serving institutions in the region that is offering a variety of programs designed to help students such as Esparza.

High School Credits for ELLs Still a Challenge

When Maria Piedra, then 16, moved with her family from Mexico to Texas in the mid-1980s, she was placed in the 6th grade. She had completed 9th grade in Mexico — and had a transcript to prove it — but officials of the Donna, Texas, schools seemed only to care that she didn't speak English. "I didn't have a choice," recalled Ms. Piedra, who is now a reading coach for the 14,000-student Donna Independent School District. Such rigid policies have changed in Donna and elsewhere, with immigrant students getting credit in many places for their work in their native countries. But state and district policymakers nationwide still struggle with how best to award credits to adolescent English-language learners from other countries and help them gain access to the high school curriculum — and a diploma.

The Refugees Who Saved Lewiston, ME

Barely a decade ago, Lewiston, Maine, was dying. The once bustling mill town's population had been shrinking since the 1970s; most jobs had vanished long before, and residents (those who hadn't already fled) called the decaying center of town "the combat zone." That was before a family of Somali refugees discovered Lewiston in 2001 and began spreading the word to immigrant friends and relatives that housing was cheap and it looked like a good place to build new lives and raise children in peace. Since then, the place has been transformed.