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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Getting a Read on Boosting Literacy

In the face of discourage literacy statistics for the state of Arizona, the annual Tucson Citizen-Sunnyside Unified School District Town Hall recently focused on the theme of "Strong Literacy/Strong Community." The town hall brought together about 300 educators, parents, and children to try to come up with solutions to the literacy problem, and their ideas covered one large wall the school's gymnasium by the end of the evening. The ideas voted most important included increasing reading materials for children in their homes, opening school libraries to children during the summer when school is out, and challenging the state's new English Language Learners law. Parents also talked about how to get children away from video games and into books.

State Report Identifies ELL Deficiencies

School administrators of a Massachusetts school district recently downplayed a new report released by state education officials that identified a series of deficiencies in the district's English Language Learner's (ELL) program. Amongst other findings, the report, the result of a 2006 visit to the school district, concludes that the city does not provide adequate materials, resources, and support to students enrolled in ELL offerings. The state also concluded that the district needs to prove that it has a proper system to allow ELL pupils to shift into the general education program, that students have equal access to all academic offerings, that annual assessments are conducted that measure student progress, and that parents are properly notified of their child's activities.

ACLU Urges Nevada County to Drop English-Only Rule

Nevada and national offices of the ACLU have jointly asked Esmeralda County to lift their English-only rule on school buses. The rule principally affects about a dozen Hispanic students. A staff attorney with the ACLU, says "the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate."

Class Knocks Down Language Barriers

Every day more than 600 non-English speaking students attend public school in Ohio's Boone County, while their families try to adapt at jobs in a community where the language is foreign to them. The students go to English Language Learner (ELL) classes daily based on their needs, but learning at school is only half the battle, according to school coordinators. Developing English at the student's home is the department's biggest challenge, and so to extend a bridge of trust between families and schools, the district began offering free, adult English as a second language classes.

ASU Unites Districts with Native Educators

Seventeen members of the Navajo Nation have received degrees from Arizona State University's College of Teacher Education and Leadership and are returning to their communities in the Four Corners region of Arizona to teach in schools on the reservation.
The assistant dean and director of the college's Professional Development School (PDS) program says that the program embraces the diversity of the districts it serves, pointing to PDS student demographics that include 34 percent Hispanic students, 33 percent Native American, 32 percent White, and 1 percent "other." In addition, seventy percent of PDS students are first-generation students.

Opinion: Latino Students Are Getting Lost in the Education System

What has often been overlooked in our community's ongoing dialogue on graduation rates is the simple fact that Latino students have the lowest rates in the district. Why should this concern anyone? After all, Latinos are relatively new to Rochester. My value system leads me to the conviction that every child deserves equality. This holds true regardless of race, citizenship status, or learning ability — surely we can all agree that each is worthy of the best education.

District Takes Action to Fill Niche Teaching Jobs

A Kansan school district is feeling the statewide teacher shortage, and is fighting back. The De Soto Board of Education last week approved 5-0 a proposal to reimburse teachers in the district who complete their special education or English language learners certification. The board waited to approve the policy until negotiations could occur between the district and the De Soto Teacher's Association.

Superintendents Rally in Phoenix for State Funding

More than 100 school superintendents recently rallied in Phoenix to convince state legislators to fund the English Language Learners program they made a law in 2006 and which takes effect at the start of next school year. "We have between 167 and 187 ELL students, and they'll be required to receive English language development for four hours per day," said one superintendent. "With the model adopted it would cost us between $400,000 and $500,000 to implement. That includes hiring an extra teacher we would keep in the second and third years of the program." Administrators also shared concerns regarding the budget forms developed by the state Department of Education, a news release from the Arizona School Administrators Association states. Those forms require districts to deduct from their costs federal funds as stated in the original law. However, a federal court in Tucson has ruled those deductions can't be required.

Many School Districts See an Increase in English Learners

In the last decade the number of students in California schools learning to speak English has increased more quickly in school districts that already had a large percentage, according to state numbers. Enrollment appears to be particularly rising in inland communities as lower-income, Spanish-speaking families leave expensive coastal areas and as migrant workers move their families into communities with plenty of agricultural work, school officials speculate.

Rethinking Remedial Education

Across California, community college leaders are writing action plans for improving so-called "basic skills" (otherwise known as remedial or developmental) and English as a Second Language education as part of a system-wide initiative. Foundations have poured in funds to improve instruction and the scaffolding that supports it. And in the classrooms, often with foundation support, faculty are talking about developmental education in new ways, re-imagining what it is and how to do it, and experimenting with curricular innovations — with the goal of creating models for other instructors operating in solitude behind their classrooms' closed doors.