President Barack Obama called for big changes in education earlier this week. In this report from <em>The NewsHour</em>, John Merrow profiles Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who will be heading up the president's calls for reform and who may bring new strategies to the education policy arena.
<em>The New York Times</em> recently launched a national conversation about immigration. Readers and specialists are invited to discuss themes that will be explored each Sunday in a series of articles that will appear online and in the newspaper in the coming months. The first article, to be published this weekend, will report on a Virginia school district that segregates students who are the children of immigrants, and who don't speak English well, to make it easier to give them intensive support. Is that a good idea?
Some programs that teach English to Spanish-speakers are thriving in Nevada County, CA, while others are just slowly catching on, according to those involved. Those in the business are pondering ways to reach Spanish-speaking families who have not taken advantage of the services, which are available to people of all ages. Others note that native English speakers are enrolling in the programs to learn Spanish.
In this recent program from <em>The Diane Rehm Show</em>, Obama administration officals, educators, and reform advocates discuss what they think are the best ways to improve education in America.
While other states have enacted policies to discourage students from building on their native-language skills, Maryland has completed an audit of the opportunities the state has to leverage the "heritage language" skills of its residents. The Task Force for the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills, which was established by the Maryland General Assembly last year, presented a report to Gov. Martin O'Malley and the legislature Feb. 26 with recommendations for how the state can better support the use of native languages other than English.
When Mexican native Edith Flores lived in New York City, she didn't need to speak much English thanks to the large population of Spanish speakers there. It was another matter, however, when the mother of four arrived in Norwich about four years ago. Suddenly, she struggled greatly to communicate with the teachers of her three school-aged children. When her children were sick, she couldn't fully describe the problem to the doctors here. Flores is now working to overcome the language barrier at a pilot program offering free English lessons to city residents whose dominant language is something other than English.
President Obama sharply criticized the nation's public schools yesterday, calling for changes that would reward good teachers and replace bad ones, increase spending, and establish uniform academic achievement standards in American education. In a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Obama called on teachers unions, state officials, and parents to end the "relative decline of American education," which he said "is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children."
Standing in front of the classroom and filling in for absentee teachers has traditionally been a promising place of work for the unemployed ranks — until now. As unemployment continues to rise, school districts nationwide are being flooded with applications for substitute teaching jobs. Those applying range from a laid-off finance manager for Harley-Davidson to a vice president of a collapsed financial institution, all for work that pays $45 to $160 a day.
When Antonio Sacre wrote <em>The Barking Mouse</em>, a retelling of a Cuban folk tale he heard as a child, he decided to include numerous Spanish words and phrases throughout the book. That's what makes the award-winning bilingual author so special, said Laura Fair, who recently had the opportunity to hear Sacre reading his book at a Michigan school with her 10-year-old son, Sabri. "To find a bilingual book is very exciting," the Eaton Rapids woman said, adding that few children's books use multiple languages.
The recently enacted economic-stimulus bill requires every state to take steps to improve teacher effectiveness, as well as to tackle one of the most pervasive problems in K-12 education: inequities in access to top teaching talent for poor and minority children. In those two provisions, which governors must address to get their cuts of $53.6 billion in state fiscal-stabilization aid, some experts see glimpses into the future of federal teacher-quality policy.