Community colleges could become a tool to help economic recovery in the United States and a model for developing countries debating how to improve their education systems, Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a longtime teacher, said Tuesday. "Community colleges are the way of the future," she said in an interview by telephone. "Now with people losing their jobs, they're a great place to go for new training."
America's community colleges suffer from an image problem at home, but some are experiencing a boom — especially when it comes to foreign student enrollments. Take Houston Community College. Thanks in part to an aggressive outreach campaign, the school has the highest percentage of international students of any community college in the U.S.
The popularity of dual-language classes in California's Ventura County schools continues to grow, with three schools starting programs this fall. Ventura Unified School District started a two-way immersion kindergarten class at Montalvo School about a decade ago. Five more dual-language programs have since come online at elementary and middle schools in Camarillo, Rio, Hueneme and Ventura. In the fall, three more campuses are expected to be added to the list.
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Did you know that Latino children begin school with strong social and emotional skills that are quite similar to those of children from middle-class white families? Did you know that math scores for first-generation Latinos in elementary school are strong, even though many of these children have limited English skills? Did you know that eight out of 10 Latino toddlers are being raised in two-parent homes? These are some of the findings reported in a research brief, 'The Cultural Strengths of Latino Families: Firm Scaffolds for Children and Youth.'"
A class of ESL students at a Pennsylvania high school had a unique lesson in the power of language this year, and they helped make a local service member feel a little closer to home too. "A dear friend of mine, Petty Officer Vance Corey, was in Iraq serving in the Navy, and he and I got the idea," said ESL teacher Jodie MacDonald. "I'd heard that he was lonely and missing everyone, that it would be a fun idea and a learning experience for my students to write to him, as well as a nice way for him to feel connected to people back home."
In the heart of Minneapolis on Riverside Avenue, Somali men gather on the white plastic chairs outside Starbucks. Just a few blocks away, Eve MacLeish spins her favorite Latino music when she hosts one of KFAI Radio's many multicultural shows. The station broadcasts in 12 languages, including Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. The Twin Cities have changed significantly during the past 35 years, with wave after wave of immigrants transforming everything from schools to restaurants, churches to sports tournaments.
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in <em>Horne v. Flores</em>, a case concerning English-language learners in Arizona, touches on a lot of the big questions that educators of these students have been discussing for decades…Which is better, a bilingual education or English-only approach? What are the best measures for telling if ELLs are making progress? What are the components of a solid program for ELLs? What's the relationship between funding and effectiveness of programs? Where should the bar be set for determining if ELLs have made sufficient progress?"
A teacher since 1968, Barbara McHuron has seen a thing or two in the classroom. Her four decades in front of the chalkboard have mostly been an accumulation of challenges, with one exception: California's almost $2 billion class-size reduction program, initiated in 1996 and aimed at capping classes in kindergarten through third grade at 20 students. But California's ongoing budget drama has forced many Bay Area districts to partially or completely scrap the program in favor of saving millions through teacher layoffs.
Angel Rodriguez stood on the front lawn, cradling his infant son, in front of personal items on display in a yard sale he was holding. Hispanic immigrants, chiefly those who are undocumented, are particularly vulnerable as the recession lingers. Without proper documentation, those out of work can't access unemployment and other government benefits, increasing the pressure to pull up stakes and look for opportunity elsewhere. Still, many who came to the United States looking to improve their life — make money, open up opportunities for their children, help support family still in Mexico — are hardly eager to return.
A year ago, Florida's Brevard County Schools ran a robust summer program here, with dozens of schools bustling with teachers and some 14,000 children practicing multiplication, reading Harry Potter and studying Spanish verbs, all at no cost to parents. But this year Florida's budget crisis has gutted summer school. Brevard classrooms are shuttered, and students like 11-year-old Uvenka Jean-Baptiste, whose mother works in a nursing home, are spending their summer days at home, surfing television channels or loitering at a mall.