In her middle-grade memoir Path to the Stars, Sylvia Acevedo draws a straight if improbable line from her childhood as a Mexican American girl in New Mexico through a career as a literal rocket scientist to her current post as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
A visually impaired Bronx high school teacher who immigrated to this country from West Africa and entered teaching because he wanted to transform the lives of young people — all while commuting four hours round-trip each day from the Hudson Valley to do so — today was named the state’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.
There's a strong and growing demand for schools to provide instruction across grade levels and subjects that leads to students who are bilingual and biliterate. In this second installment on the growth in dual-language learning, one expert argues that districts should always focus on the needs of students and their families. David Nieto, the executive director of the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an assistant research professor at the university's school of education. BUENO is an acronym for Bilinguals United for Education and New Opportunities. Nieto has also worked as a state-level English-language-learner program administrator in Illinois and Massachusetts.
Puerto Rico's school system was struggling long before Hurricane Maria struck a year ago. But the disaster exacerbated deep problems, as schools were destroyed, thousands of children moved to the U.S. mainland and students struggle with trauma. Now, special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week reports, the system is at a crossroads as the schools chief advocates for charter schools.
One year ago, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico. For the educators, students, and parents who remain on the island, nothing has been the same since. In sheer practical terms, they are grappling with lingering storm damage, shifts in school assignments after hundreds of buildings were closed in the wake of the hurricane, and the implications of a system-wide reorganization. Amid it all, the island’s education leaders are still trying to grasp the extent of the trauma they and their school communities are suffering, and how best to address that emotional and psychological pain.
Last month, the Providence public schools were sharply criticized by the U.S. Department of Justice for failing to provide adequate services to its English language learners. In a settlement agreement with Justice, the School Department agreed to make sweeping changes to how students are identified as needing language services, what types of services are provided and promised to hire more teachers trained in this field. Providence isn't alone. The Justice Department has entered into similar agreements with Boston, Worcester, Arizona and California.
For undocumented immigrant families who live with the constant fear of deportation, Hurricane Florence presented an extra set of challenges. Many immigrants in the Carolinas live in trailers and other forms of low-income housing that can be especially vulnerable in natural disasters. Hurricane Florence forced them to think about whether seeking government resources like shelter, food or other aid would help them get through the storm, or put them at greater risk.
When the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Florence finally let up, the operations crew from the New Hanover County district in North Carolina found flooded classrooms, leaking roofs, downed trees, blown-out light bulbs on athletic fields, a massive sink hole in front of a high school with a toppled tree blocking the driveway, and no electricity in most schools. But of all the damage that Superintendent Tim Markley had seen, there's one image he can't shake: the sight of one of his teachers, arriving at a shelter.
Florence, which struck the Carolinas as a Category 1 hurricane Friday and continues to breed tornadoes and floods on the East Coast, has taken a particularly harsh toll on North Carolina's most vulnerable residents — tens of thousands of homeless, working poor and farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented. Homeless shelters have seen an influx of people who rode out the storm at emergency evacuation centers but now have nowhere to go. Advocates for farmworkers have said many did not know the Hurricane Florence was coming, because there were few warnings in Spanish, and stayed in crowded housing facilities with inadequate food and water. Others who went to shelters are nervous about leaving them, afraid they will be taken into custody by immigration agents.
For decades, two factors drove the demand for dual-language education: a desire to preserve native languages and recognition that dual-language learning can boost overall achievement for English-language learners. Now, a growing number of states also see bilingualism as key to accessing the global economy, as evidenced by the surging popularity of the "seal of biliteracy" — a special recognition for graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages. The popularity of the seal is spurring even more demand for dual-language-education programs.