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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Commentary: A Teacher's Look at Proposed Cuts

In case you don't think teachers are worth the money Sacramento spends to educate our youth, read on about the students in my 7th-grade social studies class in Carlsbad. My contract is over at the end of the school year. As an outsider, I'm looking through a lens of objectivity while watching the state take a bite out of the education budget. During my career in education, I've learned some students are highly motivated and some are ready to quit. But teachers don't teach information, they teach kids … you could ask an English language learner I'll call Pablo, who missed weeks of school … But then something clicked after Career Day — hope had arrived! Pablo came bounding into the room announcing, "I'm going to be an engineer!"

Illinois School District Tests Spanish Voice-Mail Systems

New Spanish voice-mail systems will help dozens of Hispanic residents communicate with their children's school officials, an administrator from a Chicago-area school district said. The pilot program is being paid for by a $1,000 grant for English as a second language instruction and offers Spanish-speaking parents the option of leaving a voice message, after which a Spanish teacher or bilingual education teacher will return calls within two school days.

ESL Camp Helping Immigrant Kids

Tariq Mohammadpur would put an electrical monster in his desert island treasure chest. That monster, he wrote, would have thousands of dollars. Tariq was born in Pakistan, and has lived in Canada since the age of one; he's spending this March Break at a pilot project ESL kids camp that uses exercises like the treasure chest to help improve his English. The free four-day camp is put on by the Upper Canada District School Board in partnership with the Cornwall and District Immigrant Services Agency. Most of the children are from countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, or Afghanistan, and as part of the camp, they learn about flags from all over the world, with an emphasis on Canadian geography.

Hispanic Input Urged on State Curriculum

The House Mexican American Legislative Caucus is insisting that Texas' State Board of Education include Hispanics in the writing of a new English language arts and reading curriculum for the state. The State Board of Education should not change the curriculum until the board's subcommittee is expanded to include a border representative and until it considers expert advice from researchers familiar "with the challenges of language minority groups," Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said in a letter to board Chairman Don McLeroy of Bryan. The four-member subcommittee overseeing the curriculum rewrite currently has no Hispanic member even though a majority of the state's 4.7 million children attending public schools are minority, and Hispanics currently make up 47 percent of the state's school enrollment.

For Hispanic Leaders, College Affordability Is Top Concern

A panel of Hispanic college and university presidents said affordability is greatly affecting Hispanic students' access to college and offered suggestions for boosting public investment in higher education at a plenary session at the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education's annual meting.

Making the Grades, and Then Some

Auto mechanic. That's what Rigoberto Morales wanted to become when he entered Roseland University Prep charter high school in Santa Rosa nearly four years ago. Now a senior, Morales is preparing to enter Sonoma State University in August to study psychology or sociology. After college he hopes to return to Roseland to work with teens, or as he puts it, "to come back to the community and give back." Like many fellow students, the gentle-voiced Morales credits his instructors for setting him on the path toward college.

Hispanic Students Urged to Excel at State Tests

Broadcasting teacher Jo Ray led a group of students in a Spanish chant Wednesday, seeking to scratch together some enthusiasm from the tired voices gathered for first period at Springdale High School. "<em>Sí, podemos</em>," they said. The phrase translates to "Yes, we can." The students, representing ethnic groups and ages assembled from elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the district, were gathered to film a public service announcement designed to motivate Spanish-speaking peers and parents to put more emphasis on state-mandated standardized tests, such as the state Benchmark Exams. The announcement will air in both Spanish and English on the high schools' news channels, the local affiliate for Univision TV, and local Spanish radio stations, she said. Language specialists hope to broadcast similar announcements statewide.

Federal Probe Rules in Favor of School Whistleblower and Advocate for ELLs

Federal investigators found "credible evidence" that certain Arizona school officials retaliated against their district's former ELL coordinator for advocating for minority students and being a whistleblower in a federal probe of the district's shortcomings in serving ELL students. "The District's actions were intended to intimidate, threaten, coerce, and discriminate against you," the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) reported to her last month at the conclusion of its investigation. The district, on the other hand, argued that its actions to demote and terminate the employee were for unacceptable job performance, not because she was a whistleblower. However, the OCR concluded the district could not show, by its treatment of any other employees, that its handling of the whistleblower was usual and customary.

For Bronx School's Dancers, the Moves Are Irish

With a student body that is 71 percent Hispanic and 27 percent black, Public School 59 does not seem an obvious home for a thriving Irish dance troupe. And when Caroline Duggan first arrived from Dublin at age 23 to try her hand as a New York City public school music teacher, it wasn't. Many of her students had never heard of Ireland. Why, they wanted to know, did she talk funny? Then, to stave off homesickness, Ms. Duggan hung a "Riverdance" poster in her fifth-floor classroom, and one thing led to another. The children pointed to a long-haired dancer on the poster and asked if it was her. No, she laughed, but I could show you a few steps. The impromptu lesson grew into a wildly popular after-school program and, for the first time last year, a trip to Ireland that still inspires dreamy looks among those lucky enough to go.

Schools Don't Do Enough to Help Kids Get Into 4-Year Colleges, Study Says

A large number of Chicago public high school students "sell themselves short" by attending two-year colleges or vocational schools when they could go on to four-year colleges, a new report says. The study, "From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College," released Wednesday, found that many students simply gave up trying to go to four-year colleges, discouraged or intimidated by the application and financial-aid processes. The three-year study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago found that Latino students were least likely to apply to four-year schools.