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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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.

Reaching Out: School Liaisons Bridge Parents' Education and Language Gaps

When parents of students at Maryland's Bladensburg Elementary School need help navigating the complex bureaucracy of their school system, they often wander to a room cluttered with music stands and boxes of chemistry equipment, just outside the main office. This is the Parent Resource Center, Olga Noriega's room. As the school's parent liaison, she serves as a bridge between the staff and the community with the ultimate goal of bolstering student achievement. But in a school where more than 83 percent of about 600 students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, Noriega sometimes provides much more fundamental assistance.

'Superior' Language Program Needs Funds

The English Language Learner population of Delaware's Indian River School District has increased from 259 children in 2001 to 683 this year. In the same period, state ELL funding has dropped from $530 per student to $212. That's $145,047 this year — only enough to pay for half a teacher and three paraprofessionals district-wide. North Georgetown Elementary has been affected the most: Seven years ago, 6 percent of the school's students were English language learners; more than 40 percent are today. Despite these challenges, however, North Georgetown is rated a "superior" school with a student population excelling on state exams.