President Barack Obama's first budget proposal would boost U.S. Department of Education spending by 2.8 percent and provide substantial resources to turn around low-performing schools, reward effective teachers, and bolster early-childhood programs. But — not counting massive one-time increases in the recent economic-stimulus legislation — the plan also provides no more than level-funding for special education and, arguably, a cut to grants for districts under the Title I program for disadvantaged students.
Try spelling promiscuous, sacrilegious, or milieu. Fourteen-year-old Yulkendy Valdez can. A native Spanish speaker, Valdez moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States less than four years ago and has since mastered the English language. Host Michel Martin speaks with Valdez as she prepares to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee later this month.
Two weeks ago, El Sol charter school in Santa Ana opened a family and children's services center, with what was thought to be an ambitious goal: To register 100 low-income families for services within a year. It took a week. "These are parents who were in the service sectors, or construction, and they were the first to lose their jobs," said Monique Daviss, executive director of El Sol. "They've been hanging on since August. They were working families, and they want to be working again."
The number of elementary and middle school students meeting standards in English rose sharply in New York City and across the state, according to test results released on Thursday by the State Education Department. But the scores used to determine who has met the standards showed much smaller gains, with signs that many students continued to struggle.
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "After 12 weeks of lessons, students in Boston public schools who participated in the program scored as well on vocabulary tests as students who didn't participate who were 2 years older, according to the article. And the impact was strongest among ELLs."
Five years ago, Keicha Muriel only knew three words of English. Now she is fluent in the language and will graduate in May from Rowan University with a bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering. Muriel, 21, moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to South Jersey at age 16. Soon after her arrival, she enrolled in Collingswood High School, where she attended English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Although she knew very little English at the time and had to adjust to the culture shock, she applied herself and learned the language.
Anticipating significant budget cuts to New York City schools in the coming year, Chancellor Joel I. Klein ordered principals on Wednesday to stop hiring teachers from outside the system, a move that will force them to look internally at a pool that, according to an independent report, includes many subpar teachers.
To earn a high school equivalency degree at New Jersey's newest GED testing center, applicants need to know their math, social studies, and science. They also need one more skill unique to the center. They must speak Spanish. The state's first Spanish-only GED testing site is set to open next month in a Newark social service agency called La Casa de Don Pedro. Officials there said offering Spanish speakers a chance to earn their degree in their native tongue will improve their odds of getting a job and going on with their studies.
Next month, a Newark social service agency will offer GED testing in Spanish. At first glance, this strikes many as a ridiculous idea that tears at the American fabric. The GED, critics cry, should be taken in English because that is the primary language in American colleges and workplaces. After all, getting ahead in America demands fluent English.
So why should we allow applicants to take the test in Spanish?
In her Learning the Language blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "About 8 percent of English-language learners in California, compared with 20 percent of students who aren't ELLs, finish high school having taken the required courses to be eligible to attend the California State University system, according to a study by WestEd released in a brief by the National High School Center."