School district leaders urged their colleagues last week to make concrete plans for taking care of students whose parents have been picked up in workplace raids by federal immigration agents. As the federal government focuses on employers who hire large numbers of undocumented immigrants, school districts with large immigrant populations will see more students' lives disrupted by the sudden disappearance of one or both parents, said superintendents, school board members, and a policy analyst who spoke about the raids at a recent panel discussion at the Council of the Great City Schools' annual conference.
The number of Hispanic children attending Missouri's Branson and Hollister schools has nearly doubled in the last few years with no sign of slowing down. Branson educators agree that continual communication with parents and family members of Hispanic students is important. "We don't offer bilingual instruction," said Bradly Allen, director of federal programs for Branson schools. "However, we do offer bilingual support. We are reaching out to the Hispanic community and providing Spanish-speaking families with documents in their native language for better communication."
Call it the Hispanic baby boom. Fertility has surpassed immigration as the primary factor in the United States' Latino population growth, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released on Thursday. "We are now seeing secondary repercussions," said Richard Fry, a senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center. "A large group of second-generation kids are having a big impact on the school system, and as they mature, it will affect voting and the labor market."
Marta Torres speaks English clearly. She is proud to be a U.S. citizen. But her native language is Spanish. She was born in Mexico and moved to California in adulthood. It took hard work to learn her new language, and she continues to take classes. She studied for her citizenship test and passed. Torres, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in South St. Louis, is an example of the many new Americans who are encouraged and helped by their parishes and by Catholic agencies to learn English and become citizens.
Test results show that students enrolled in an Idaho county school district's two-language program outperform their counterparts in English-only classes. Recently released test results show that both Hispanic and non-Hispanic students in the district's Dual Immersion program continue to become more proficient at reading and math the longer they are enrolled in the program. By the sixth grade, Hispanic students especially outperform other Hispanic students who do not have the benefit of a two-language program.
Elizabeth Gaupo of Salem, an elementary teacher and the mother of two school-age children, writes in this column, "Measure 58's potential effects should concern everyone, no matter your views on bilingual education. It will mean an influx of second-language learners into the regular classroom who may not be proficient in English. It will be a huge drain on teachers, many of whom may not have been trained to work with second-language learners, and will mean less time and attention for other students. It will also cost the state nearly half a billion dollars the first two years alone — funds diverted from other educational programs."
Dr. Rosalie Pedalino Porter, the author of <em>Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual Education</em>, writes in this column, "Tough problems require strong solutions. Oregon's non-English-speaking school children are not getting the education they are entitled to by federal and state laws. These children are not given enough help in learning English — large numbers still unable to do classroom work in English after five or six years in Oregon schools. Measure 58 calls for changing the priorities, not for increasing spending as the opposition shouts at every opportunity."
A new encyclopedia of well-researched, non-technical articles edited by an Arizona State University Professor is being hailed as a first-stop reference for accepted knowledge in the controversial and dynamic field of bilingual education. The encyclopedia links bilingual education to its many areas of direct socio-cultural impact, including issues of language and literacy, diversity, education equity, and the effects of shifting demographics across the United States.
In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "The Miami Herald published a column by Myriam Marquez over the weekend who opines that it would be a mistake for Florida education officials to reduce the number of training hours that reading teachers who work with English-language learners need to receive on how to teach such students… Florida has educators on both sides of the issue who have been very feisty in making sure their views are heard, which is why, I imagine, this issue is not going away anytime soon."
Helping a growing Latino population send its children to college is going to require creative thinking about the nation's universities, an expert in Latino education said last week during a conference at East Carolina University on Latino issues. Antonio Esquibel, an author, professor emeritus and member of the board of trustees at Metropolitan State College in Denver, was the keynote speaker during a conference on building leadership to help Latinos access education.