For the English-as-a-Second-Language students in Oregon public schools, it's rare to have the upper hand when it comes to language. But in Tracy Patterson's advanced Spanish class at North Medford High School, the Latino English Language Learners help teach Spanish to the Anglo students. The bimonthly conversation group, launched three years ago with a Medford Schools Foundation grant, is intended to give Spanish students practice talking with native speakers and to foster leadership skills in the ELL pupils.
Some high school teachers worry about grooming students for admission to elite universities. Judah Lakin worries about getting his students' immigration papers so that they can afford college. Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for federal financial aid, and those living in Rhode Island, as in 39 other states, do not qualify for in-state tuition at public universities. Since out-of-state tuition is about three times as high as in-state, many young immigrants forgo higher education.
Touches of Cecilia Flores can be found all over North Carolina's Oakley Elementary School. Whether it's the mural she helped design, the tissue box she painted or the 36 English as a Second Language students she works with every day, her presence can be felt throughout the school. In June, Oakley Elementary may lose that presence. Flores is a citizen of Mexico, and Buncombe County Schools has decided to no longer sponsor her work visa. If she doesn't find another employer before June, she may have to return to Mexico.
Jeff Sorensen's students are wary of strangers. A mix of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from impoverished and war-torn countries, they thrive on routine. Sorensen's "newcomers" program at Glendale Middle School is meant to ease non-English speaking refugees and immigrants into their new surroundings through specialized instruction and smaller class sizes. But a community activist alleges the program isolates kids and constitutes a form of "institutional racism."
The National Science Foundation recently came to Hispanic-serving institutions for advice on the best way to tackle the dearth of Latinos in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The advice from college administrators gathered for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' Capitol Forum came back loud and clear: Pay Hispanic students to do research. Or you'll never get them — and keep them — in STEM fields.
An Iowa teenager was suspended from school this week because she refused to take a test for students who are not fluent in English. Lori Phanachone, the U.S.-born daughter of immigrants from Laos, says she proved her grasp of English in other ways. The Storm Lake High School senior has a near-perfect grade-point average and acceptance letters from two Iowa colleges.
Greenwich mother Reina Garay says it's reassuring to know that she can help her daughter become more literate in English without speaking the language herself. A native of Mexico, Garay is still learning English and, like many immigrant parents, has sometimes shied away from giving homework help in her native language out of fear that it could hinder her daughter's reading and writing development. Thanks to a new literacy program for immigrant parents, the 27-year-old mother is now learning that basic literacy skills often transcend language barriers.
Roughly one-fourth of the nation's kindergartners are Hispanic, evidence of an accelerating trend that now will see minority children become the majority by 2023. Census data released Thursday also showed that Hispanics make up about one-fifth of all K-12 students. Hispanics' growth and changes in the youth population are certain to influence political debate, from jobs and immigration to the No Child Left Behind education, for years.
Even the harshest critics of the role that television plays in children's lives would have a hard time arguing that Elmo and Big Bird are bad for youngsters. From the earliest days of "Sesame Street" nearly four decades ago, educational television has earned high praise and millions of fans for entertaining and educating young children. Now, a new generation of programs, and a rigorous research effort to test its impact, is adding to the "Sesame Street" legacy and working to clarify for parents the potential benefits of television viewing, particularly for literacy development.
Samantha Mazurek has more than one reason to be proud of her latest school project. A member of the Amistades program in Minnesota's Northfield Middle School, the sixth-grader just finished researching, writing and illustrating an alphabet book in Spanish, which in itself is tough work for any student. But what makes Mazurek really excited is the fact that her book, along with 84 other Spanish alphabet books hand-made by her fellow students, will be donated to Latino families in Northfield to promote early childhood, native-language literacy.