The students at Oakland International High School form a real-life melting pot. The school opened its doors a year ago in a neighborhood serving a diverse group of high school students with some things in common: They are all relatively new to the country, they are trying to become fluent in English, and nearly all qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of low socioeconomic status. It's a somewhat radical approach, but school officials say that the students already feel a sense of ownership in their school.
This week in Santa Fe, state officials in New Mexico formally adopted a book about the Navajo language and culture written by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, a Navajo professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. While other books on Navajo language exist, state officials say New Mexico is the first to adopt a Navajo textbook for use in the public education system. School districts in New Mexico, as well as U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, can review Yazzie's book and decide whether to use it starting in the 2009-10 school year.
Thanks to a continuing education grant from Duke University, nearly two dozen public school teachers were able to travel for 10 to 14 days in July to Guatemala, where they learned what education is like in a developing country. Most of the teachers were English-as-a-Second-Language instructors, though some were elementary school teachers with a very high number of Spanish-speaking students. Teachers say the experience heightened their awareness about the region from which many of their Hispanic students and their families had emigrated.
The federal government has released regulations for the federal migrant education program that stiffen the requirements state administrators must follow to verify that all migrants are qualified to participate in the program. Some advocates for migrants say the regulations, which for the first time require states to re-interview a sample of migrant families each year, may discourage families from participating.
Governor Deval Patrick's recent Readiness Project report has received cautious praise for being rich in new and bold ideas. But for at least one group of students whose persistent failure all but defines the achievement gap, the Readiness Project is virtually silent. The administration has offered no ideas to help English Language Learner students who need help most urgently. An educational policy of benign neglect is no policy at all and simply will not do.
When students across Arizona return to school this month, many of their grade levels will be separated by language ability. Students who speak English will go in one classroom; those who don't, to another. The non-English-speakers will stay in those specialized classrooms, where they will receive an intense four hours of English training, until they can pass the state's language exam.
After two full years of sweeping student-achievement reforms, Denver Public Schools recorded "historic" gains in the state's student assessment tests. Denver posted the biggest increases in math and reading proficiency among the state's largest districts in this year's Colorado Student Assessment Program. District officials say the gains are even more impressive because in Denver about 43 percent of the students who took the test in English are English language learners.
The message was an unequivocal "¡Sí, se puede!" as the first-ever Idaho Summit on Educational Excellence About Hispanic Students convened July 24 and 25 at Boise State University. Through workshops and presentations from state leaders in education, the summit (which took eight months of planning) examined three issues: closing the achievement gap between Latino students and their peers, drop-out prevention and retention, and access to higher education.
Nika and Salome Salamadze vividly remember coming to Canada two years ago from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Now their memories won't just be their own. The brother and sister, 11 and 12 respectively, have made them into a book, which they're writing in English and Georgian and illustrating. They're part of a club of students aged seven to 14 who are spending 10 days writing dual-language books at their local library, which will then be available for the public to check out.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is proposing a laundry list of educational benefits that would reach from birth to college. His rival, Republican John McCain, plans to focus on enabling local educational initiatives and expanding virtual learning.