The language wars flare up whenever insecure Americans worry that English is becoming <em>passé</em>. It's a cultural paranoia that is laughably off the mark. According to research, children of immigrants stand a better chance of losing their native language and speaking only English than never learning English at all. Still, it's a fear that is resistant to facts. I ought to know. I've seen it up close.
Schools need to have a protocol for educating and retaining immigrant students — documented and undocumented — and they must also engage in community outreach initiatives to build up trust among immigrant families, National Education Association (NEA) leaders and educators said during a panel last week at the organization's annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama will be using the National Council of La Raza convention, which begins tomorrow in San Diego, as a platform for courting the increasingly significant Latino vote. Convention organizers hope to press the senators for answers on some of the thorniest issues affecting Latinos, among them immigration policies and solutions to the nation's health insurance and mortgage crises.
In her "Learning the Language" blog from <em>Education Week</em>, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Michael Erard suggests in <em>Wired Magazine</em> that the version of English that many Chinese speak, and that visitors to Beijing might hear during the summer Olympics, could have some advantages over the standard version that you and I may speak."
In her "Learning the Language" blog from <em>Education Week</em>, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Money from California tobacco tax revenues is paying for literacy coaches to make home visits in Orange County and encourage Spanish-speaking parents to get their toddlers interested in books. That's one of a couple of efforts I've come across recently that show public officials may be paying more attention to the preparation for school of children who are English-language learners."
The phone rings and Fred Fuentes picks it up: "Equity." In the world of public education, an "assistant superintendent for equity and diversity" might seem like a superfluous, touchy-feely job designed by the politically correct and politically connected. But buzzwords notwithstanding, Mr. Fuentes has perhaps one of the most critical jobs in the school system today: seeing to it that students from all lands, all cultures and all economic backgrounds meet the achievement standards set forth in state and federal law.
She was just eight years old when she first started helping recent immigrants — in this case, her parents — adjust to a new language and culture. But Frances Martino-Souilliere went on to make assisting new Canadians, especially in terms of learning English, her life's work. Last week, Martino-Souilliere was one of 10 Ontarians named by the McGuinty government as Newcomer Champions. The award, created in 2007, recognizes Ontarians who help promote cultural understanding and diversity or help newcomers settle in this country.
He took 15 AP classes in high school, and kicks himself for passing up two others. Now, he is graduating from UCLA, with a double major in English and Chicano Studies and a B-plus grade point average. But for all his success, Miguel does not share the full-bodied exuberance of his fellow graduating seniors. A native of Puebla, Mexico, he is an illegal immigrant. As Miguel looks to an uncertain future, he and other undocumented students find themselves caught between contradictory U.S. immigration policies.
Say what you will about the Rev. Al Sharpton, it is hard to ignore — or deter — him. And that is good news for those interested in fixing the nation's troubled public schools. In giving his voice to school reform as a true civil rights issue, Mr. Sharpton may help change the nature of the debate. Equally significant is his willingness and that of other leaders in a recently formed coalition to challenge traditional allies in the cause of black and brown children … How can America boast of equal opportunity when so many black and Latino children are denied a good education?
Texas' Huntsville Independent School District is currently offering $3,000 stipends to applicants for teaching positions as either secondary math teachers or elementary bilingual teachers. According to HISD Superintendent Richard Montgomery, the goal of offering the stipends is to attract quality instructors to the district in those specific categories and, hopefully, to keep them employed in following years.