ELL News Headlines

Throughout the week, Colorín Colorado gathers news headlines related to English language learners from around the country. The ELL Headlines are posted Monday through Friday and are available for free!

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Hispanic Growth Creates Need for Education Changes

The Southeast's growing Hispanic population will force schools to focus more attention on Spanish-speaking students as K-12 systems work to meet federal No Child Left Behind act requirements. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, an education policy think-tank, the number of Hispanic public high school students is expected to continue to grow, particularly at the high school level. The SREB says high school enrollment of Hispanic students in the region will more than double between 2008 and 2022. Florida, Georgia, and Texas are expected to see the most growth. Alabama is in the middle tier of Hispanic student population growth, along with Delaware and Virginia.

Struggling Students Find Early-Morning Help at Hernando Hills Elementary

What was once primarily a waiting time has become "word time" at a Tennessee elementary school for 17 students from foreign-speaking families and 13 other students who are having difficulty with reading. From about 7:10 to 7:45 each morning, three teacher assistants gather the youngsters in a room at the school where they work on word skills. They sit as a group and watch phonics videos, speaking the words as they appear on the screen. During the sessions, each of the teacher assistants pulls individual students from the larger group to give them reinforcement with words on flash cards.

Program Will Put English-Speaking Students in Spanish-Only Class

Bilingual education is making a splash in North Carolina's McDowell County. The district's superintendent has announced the beginning of a new language immersion program for kindergarteners. Starting in July, some kindergarten classes at a local school will be structured around the Splash program. Splash works through the concept of language immersion, that is, by placing the English-speaking child into a Spanish-only classroom. All lessons and activities, indeed all communication in the classroom, are conducted in Spanish.

Area Educators Say Revisions to English Curriculum OK

Though proposed revisions to the Texas public school English curriculum has raised controversy across the state, some educators say the changes are no big deal. Longview Independent School District's curriculum chief says the proposed revisions are similar to what teachers already are using. Despite a plea from state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, that Latino experts first be allowed to review the proposal, the State Board of Education is scheduled to take a preliminary vote today of the revised English language arts and reading standards. Herrero wants to ensure the revisions are conducive to learning for Hispanic students.

On Affirmative Action: Doomed to Disappoint Justice O'Connor

Five years ago, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor saved affirmative action in public college admissions when she crafted the majority decision affirming the consideration of race in admissions by the University of Michigan's law school. While O'Connor found justifications for the (limited) consideration of race and ethnicity, she also spoke of the need for such consideration to stop at some point. "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today," she wrote. The American Educational Research Association assembled a group of leading scholars Tuesday to consider the current state of affirmative action, but found themselves returning again and again to O'Connor's predictions.

Opinion: My Latino Kids Don't Need Affirmative Action

In this opinion piece, parent and daughter of Cuban émigrés Carmen Juri discusses why the idea of affirmative action is offensive to her, and highlights a new children's book that shares her view. She quotes Tony Robles, author of <em>Joey Gonzalez, Great American</em>, "My mother didn't tell me I was a minority and so a victim, a second-class citizen who needed to be treated differently from everyone else. She taught me that learning and diligence were the keys that would free me from poverty, but affirmative action policies have seduced an entire generation of black and Hispanic kids into believing that special preferences are a necessity and a birthright."

'You can do it': Latino Students Urged to Set a Goal, Achieve It

Maria Chavez and two of her classmates recently went to a Hispanic Education Conference in Modesto, CA to learn that the path to college and the career opportunities that follow are accessible. About 500 students attended the 24th annual conference, which was hosted by Modesto Junior College. The event provides local high school students with information on a variety of careers and encourages them to choose a career, focus on a goal, and consider attending MJC.

Number of English Language Learners Is Down in Alabama School District

After years of growth, enrollment in Alabama's Hoover City School District of students with limited English proficiency has dropped for the first time. Hoover school officials say they don't know why enrollment is down, but anecdotal information from teachers and others suggests immigrant families may be leaving Hoover for economic reasons — to purchase homes in more affordable communities, or to find lower rent. Hoover's English Language Learners program, which provides instruction to students who are not proficient in English, is among the largest statewide. Yet this year, despite a larger student population overall, the number of English language learners in Hoover declined.

Opinion: SAT Subject Tests Are a Valuable Tool

The University of California Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools wants to end its requirement of SAT subject tests as a factor in admissions. Unlike the much broader SAT, subject tests measure a student's knowledge of specific subject areas covering 20 different topics, from advanced mathematics and science to fine art and language skills. Critics say the tests contribute little to predicting college success and may hurt the chances of minority students. Yet the facts strongly show otherwise.

District Reclassifies English Language Learners

Colorado's Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 used to have about 800 students classified as English language learners. This year, the number dropped to around 300, based on a new way of testing and classifying English language learners adopted by the district and the state of Colorado. But those 500 students dropped off the ELL rolls belong to a category of students who claim English as their primary home language yet struggle because of their limited background vocabulary. Students who lack a variety of experiences, do not come from highly literate backgrounds, or grow up in vocabulary-poor environments can end up in a similar situation as English language learners, with a small base vocabulary and poor knowledge of the structure of English, even though they might speak fluently.

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