It's called "the summer brain drain" because during those long, hot months away from school, kids supposedly forget a lot of what they had learned in class. Research, however, tells a more nuanced story: Some learning is lost among some groups, and others gain.
It's a very different kind of summer vacation for hundreds of students in New Orleans public schools. For several weeks, many are voluntarily taking part in a variety of academic and enrichment programs, including some students taking English as a second language at Ben Franklin Elementary School. Whether they come from Chinese, Hispanic, Vietnamese or Arabic backgrounds, students were selected by test scores or through teacher recommendation to get a little extra help as they try to learn the English language through activities and classroom instruction.
Recently the ACLAMO English as a Second Language (ESL) Family Literacy Program in Norristown, PA celebrated the graduation of nine preschool students from the early learning program along with their accompanying mothers, who graduated from the adult/parent education program. ACLAMO's program is ranked the second in the state for family literacy. Participants meet three to four mornings during the week and strives to educate Latino preschool students and their parents about the English language and American culture.
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "A number of education organizations in California filed a lawsuit in a state court today alleging that California is violating federal laws and the state constitution by suspending the monitoring of specialized education programs for at least one year…The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco against the state, says programs that won't be reviewed include those serving students who are English-language learners, migrants, neglected or delinquent, or homeless."
On Aug. 24, a few short weeks after graduating from high school in Harrisonburg, VA, Maria Martinez will be voluntarily deported. She will be the only one in her family to make the exit from America. "My mom is legal, my brothers are legal, my sisters are legal. Everyone is legal but me," said Maria, 19. "I'm alone." Earlier this week, Maria sat down with the Daily News-Record for about an hour to talk about her life as an illegal immigrant. Maria was in a unique position to talk on the record about her experience because immigration officials already know about her status.
Here's a good argument for putting Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court: She's knowledgeable, respected, and deeply experienced. As a federal judge for nearly two decades, she's heard thousands of cases and written hundreds of opinions. And here's a lousy argument for confirming Sotomayor: She would be the first "Hispanic" on the court.
Until last fall, Julie Heagney had trouble recruiting tutors for students who needed help to improve their English skills. In August, she even had to cancel a training session due to lack of volunteers. Not anymore. The number of new tutors since last September has increased to 70 and it could reach 100 by the end of the year, said Heagney, who coordinates Literacy Unlimited at the Framingham Public Library. The program, which offers one-on-one tutoring, has about 200 tutors, between new and old, for more than 300 students.
When Jonathan Trujillo was 6 years old, he asked his mom: "What college am I going to go to?" Sonia Trujillo smiles at the memory, recalling what she told her son 11 years ago: "You're in first grade! Don't worry about it now." But Jonathan, now 17, never lost sight of his college goals. He plans to attend Columbia University next fall, and he'll be graduating Wednesday from Clayton Valley High School. In four years, when he expects to have a bachelor's degree in political science and creative writing, he hopes to enroll in Yale Law School.
Twenty years ago, a young boy from Cambodia found his way into Debbie Birgfeld's English for Speakers of Other Languages classroom at Bethesda Elementary School in Maryland. Buna, a shy boy, had spent the previous two years living in the jungle with his family after escaping from a Khmer Rouge prison camp. For him, a formal education was not the priority. Survival was. But Buna did have one distinct talent that set him apart: fishing. So, Birgfeld packed up her class and took the students to a local lake, where Buna taught the rest of the class to fish. That outing started a tradition that continues today.
In this column, Sila M. Calderón, the former governor of Puerto Rico and a trustee of the New York Public Library, writes, "Governing and public service are a balancing act, and there are no pain-free ways to save millions of dollars in taxpayer money in this terrible economy. But the libraries don't just serve one interest. They serve everybody — bringing the world to the wealthy, to the middle class, and crucially, to the disadvantaged and underserviced communities."