The Burlington School District's summer session for English as a Second Language students began last week. The district has 117 ESL elementary students enrolled in summer school, which focuses on literacy and math skills. Older students from the district volunteer to help the ESL students hailing from countries such as Bosnia, Somalia, and Vietnam.
Eyebrows rose in curiosity as a Puerto Rican tapas was distributed at Virginia's John Kerr Elementary School. The food was the last chapter of the students' lesson on the language and culture of Puerto Rico. Brenda Colon provided the tapas and information on her native island. She was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States when she was 7. She was one of the guest speakers assisting with the school's Around the World, an English for Speakers of Other Languages program.
Schoolchildren with limited English skills need to be kept in traditional classrooms rather than pulled out and taught separately, two university educators said recently. Teachers in all subject areas need more training in working with those students, said Annela Teemant and Farida Pawan, who are education faculty members at IUPUI and Indiana University, respectively.
In this column, Joe Garcia, president of Colorado State University-Pueblo, writes, "The youngest and fastest growing segment of our population is of Hispanic origin. If they are the work force of tomorrow they must be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow and those jobs increasingly will require at least some college. It is in our collective interest to properly prepare them for college, enroll them, and make sure they successfully graduate. This will require the collective efforts of families, the K-12 system, community and state colleges, universities, social service agencies, private business, and state and local governments."
A new children's book by a Stevens Point author aims to educate people about the Hmong culture. Published by the Portage County Literacy Council, Maiker Vang's "Grandma's Hmong New Year Celebration" teaches people of all ages and nationalities why the Hmong celebrate the way they do. Filled with intricate colored-pencil drawings and written in three dialects, it tells the story of a Hmong woman from Laos who is teaching her American Hmong granddaughter about the Hmong New Year.
Columnist Hector Becerra shares the responses he received to his column about ethnic achievement gaps: "Writing about anything dealing with race, ethnicity or cultural differences is like a big Rorshach test. Everyone sees something different."
The Washington Post's Education Columnist Jay Mathews writes, "I don't like talking about the achievement gap. The term has several meanings, none very useful to my mind. There is often a strained silence when I bring this up, since it sounds like I am on some crotchety rant against political correctness. But that is not what I mean. Thankfully, a new study is making my point for me, courtesy of Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless."
They call it the "summer slide." As June slips into July and then the dog days of August, many of the math skills, history lessons and new vocabulary words that students acquired during the school year slip without the routine of daily classes. As a result, many high-income families around the country send their children into private academic summer programs, and that has educators increasingly worried that the achievement gap actually widens over the summer.
Des Moines students will soon see more focus in the classroom on global issues. Possibilities brainstormed at a school board meeting Tuesday include foreign languages and geography at an earlier age and ways to incorporate culture lessons into subjects like art. Other ideas ranged from more attention to current events to more foreign exchange opportunities.
Jon Schuhl, Tigard High School's new principal, said in college he grappled with what it is like to struggle to learn in a second language. Schuhl sees his role as principal as trying to connect students, their families and the community to the school. That must be done while being an instructional leader and making seemingly trivial matters like the bell schedule work better.