Educators often point out the obstacles new immigrants face in graduating on time. But they aren't the only kids learning English who are struggling to graduate. Statewide, about 60 percent of high school students classified as having limited English proficiency — called LEP in education circles — have been in U.S. schools five years or more, according to a <em>Dallas Morning News</em> analysis of state test data.
We don't doubt that this week's reading of <em>The Dallas Morning News</em> will cause some North Texans to throw down their newspapers in anger. The front-page stories that start today about the struggle Latino children have in progressing through the Dallas school district will lead many readers straight back to the immigration debate … The real issue is how schools in Dallas and across Texas educate so many Hispanic children, whether they are first-, second- or third-generation Latinos. This responsibility starts with Latino families ensuring that their children show up at school, master their classes and ultimately succeed. But this complicated task is important to all Texans because the state's future is wrapped up with its fast-growing Latino population.
Education officials in several states with large English-language-learner populations are bristling at a proposal by the U.S. Department of Education that they say would curb their flexibility in deciding when children are fluent in English and if they still need special services for ELLs.
With the increase in the nation's Hispanic population, policymakers must address the "opportunity gap" as an education challenge, says Dr. Pedro A. Noguera, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University.
A long-nurtured dream among the staff at Eugene, Oregon's 310-student River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary School seems likely to come true by fall 2009. The Eugene School Board on Wednesday is expected to endorse planning for Lane County's first two-way Spanish/English language immersion program, to be housed at River Road. The program would offer instruction in both languages to all students, with core subjects — reading, math, social studies and science — taught half the day in English, half in Spanish. It would probably begin as kindergarten-only, expanding as students ascend to the next grade level.
With sizeable populations in the last two states to vote in the Democratic primary, Native American voters emerged as a highly sought-after voting bloc ahead of yesterday's voting in Montana and South Dakota. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton courted the Native vote and their pitches both revolve around improving the educational systems in Indian country. But for many within the Indian community, their concerns reach beyond these top-line policy goals, focusing instead on how standardized tests and uniform curriculum could undercut traditional teachings and native language learning.
Maxima Valdez wanted to help her daughters with their homework. Balbina Vasquez signed up to be able to speak with doctors and her four children's teachers. The Spanish-speaking mothers and others like them find assistance through the Even Start Family Literacy Program, a state-funded program run by Reading Area Community College.Even Start's goal is to make parents self-sufficient and prepare children from low-income city families for kindergarten in the Reading School District, said Janet G. Sands, program coordinator.
The valedictorian at Fresno's Bullard High School won't be attending college in the United States this fall because he's scheduled to be deported. Seventeen-year-old Arthur Mkoyan's 4.0 grade-point average qualified him to enter one of the state's top universities. But he and his mother have been ordered back to Armenia after their last appeal for asylum failed. The family fled from what used to be part of the Soviet Union and has been seeking asylum since 1992.
Ong Vue's very first day of school came when she was 15 and was enrolled in 9th grade at Sacramento's Luther Burbank High School after arriving here as a refugee from Thailand, speaking Thai and Hmong but no English. Four years later, Ms. Vue is a senior, has passed the math section of California's high school exit exam, and plans to attend community college in the fall. Despite her clear academic progress, Ms. Vue's showing on standardized tests has been a handicap in her school's quest to meet the yardstick for adequate yearly progress, or AYP, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Her experience is an example of why some educators here say the accountability provisions of the law don't provide a complete picture of the quality of education at a school that has a high number of ELL students.
Watching fourth-grader James Savas dominate a "Geography Jeopary" game at his Illinois elementary school, one would never guess he wasn't a native English speaker. But he moved to Elburn, IL from Puerto Rico less than two years ago, and this social studies class is an English Language Learner class. James' rural school district has seen an explosion of ELL students in the past few years — and they are not alone. As the school year comes to a close, plenty of districts are refining their ELL curriculums, incorporating new teaching strategies and adding new staff. They're also recognizing the opportunity that ELL students offer: a firsthand look at world cultures for all students.