This is my first day back in the office after spending one month in the Middle East. My visit included 10 days of reporting in Jordan on the schooling opportunities for Iraqi refugee children in that country. There's a possibility that some of the children I interviewed — or children with similar stories— could end up in your school systems. The U.S. Department of State has set a goal of receiving 12,000 Iraqi children and adults in 2008, according to a Nov. 30 article that ran in the Washington Post. That's 12,000 out of an estimated 2.4 million Iraqis who are living outside of Iraq, in countries such as Syria and Jordan.
A new study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin finds that Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directly contributes to lower graduation rates. Each year Texas public high schools lose at least 135,000 youth prior to graduation — a disproportionate number of whom are African-American, Latino, and English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students.
Bilingual writer Pat Mora has written more than 30 award-winning children's books that incorporate both English and Spanish, several volumes of poetry for young adults and adults, and a memoir that chronicles her experiences of growing up on the Texas-Mexico border. Mora also is the founder of the family literacy initiative El día de los niños/El día de los libros — Children's Day/Book Day — now housed at the American Library Association. The yearlong commitment of linking all children to books, languages, and cultures culminates in celebrations across the country April 30. In this interview with The Olympian, she talks about what inspires her writing, and why poetry and reading are so important for today's youth.
Arizona's Gilbert Unified School District submitted a $2 million budget request to the state last week to fund extra costs associated with a new English Language Learner program. The budget request was filed with the Arizona Department of Education, which in turn plans to forward budget requests from all school districts for ELL programs to the Legislature for consideration later this year. The Legislature is required by law to fund the ELL budget increases. The budget request would cover training, salary, and benefits costs for the projected 33 additional teachers the district needs for the new program, according to a document handed out at the board meeting.
Utah's state board of education is asking for funding to strengthen the teaching of indigenous languages in schools serving Native American children, according to this Deseret News article. Proponents of the plan say that helping students become proficient in their native languages would help to improve their English reading achievement as well.
At 14 years old, a confident Rosanna Castillo already knows she wants to be an attorney. To achieve her goal, the eighth-grader at Monroe Middle School has focused on getting great grades — anything short of an "A" is unacceptable. Saturday she learned the additional steps (from taking college preparatory classes to advanced study techniques) that will help insure her path to college. Castillo was among about 2,800 Latino students from across Santa Clara County who took part in the first Advancing Latina/o Achievement and Success conference at San Jose State University.
New technologies that enable cell phones to translate speech on the fly and read documents for the visually impaired could have important implications for both educators and students. Late last year, NEC Corp. announced the development of an automatic Japanese-to-English speech translation tool for mobile phones sold in Japan. The software is aimed at Japanese travelers abroad, but versions for other languages could one day prove useful for educators and administrators in schools with large populations of English-language learners.
Young public school students in Whatcom County, Washington, don't get class time to learn a foreign language, but two people from Western Washington University think they should. Marsha Riddle Buly, associate professor of Elementary Education, and Trisha Skillman, director of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program, are spreading the word about bilingual education and its benefits to students, schools and the community.
Students new to English will have two options when taking state tests next year in Illinois' District 214. Students with fewer English skills will be told to attempt each section "until the point of frustration," said Norm Kane, District 214's director of the English Language Learner program. When they no longer understand test questions, they will be told to put down their pencils, Kane said.
Changing schools stresses most students, but throw in changing countries and being forced to take major tests in a foreign language and the result "es muy loco, no?"