Perhaps no topic has as thoroughly vexed officials who oversee the nation's leading test of academic progress as the wide variation among states and cities in the proportion of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency whom they exclude from taking the exam or provide with special accommodations for it.
"Nuh ton hova di piepa til mi tell yuh we fi du," a teacher at the Hope Valley Experimental School, St Andrew, told her students before the beginning of an examination. Under other circumstances, this reporter would have been taken aback because it is not supposed to be the norm for classroom teachers to speak to children in Creole. However, this was the norm in some sessions for this grade-four class, which is part of the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) at the University of the West Indies Bilingual Education Project, which started in 2004 and is scheduled to end this year.
Seventeen-year-old Luis Pena has few doubts about his plans after high school. "Harvard," he says emphatically. "Or MIT." He wasn't always so confident. A year ago, when Pena and his family left the Dominican Republic for Ellicott City, he assumed college was beyond his reach. But midway through a Towson University workshop sponsored by the Hispanic College Fund yesterday, he proclaimed that such prestigious colleges were worth shooting for.
Nearly all states continue to struggle in meeting the No Child Left Behind Act's academic targets for English-language learners in mathematics and reading, according to the latest analysis released by the U.S. Department of Education.
Randi Weingarten, the New Yorker who is rising to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, says she wants to replace President Bush's focus on standardized testing with a vision of public schools as community centers that help poor students succeed by offering not only solid classroom lessons but also medical and other services.
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."