Students are being asked not to speak Spanish on their bus ride in the 68-student Esmeralda County School District in Nevada — and the decision has prompted an outcry and concern about its legality, as well as intervention by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Conventional wisdom says it is never too early for children to learn a foreign language. But conventional wisdom predates the days of paying someone to teach your child another tongue. An increasing number of American parents fluent in a foreign language, as well as their English-only counterparts, want their children to be bilingual if not multilingual — and are willing to pay a hefty price to do so. While no one knows how much is spent in total on games, books, DVDs, online tools, and foreign-language baby sitters, the amount can easily reach thousands of dollars a year per toddler. That counts tutors who charge $70 an hour, classes for $50 a week, foreign au pairs who can cost $16,000 a year, and annual tuition at private immersion schools that charge $20,000 for nine months of study.
The George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development received a $600,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the math and science aspects of English Language Learner programs in California and New York. "Math and English are gate keeper courses that are necessary for everyone to succeed," said Charlene Rivera, executive director of GW's Center for Equity and Excellence in Education. "The whole goal of this project is to make sure ELL students have the same opportunities as others students. If language is blocking them from making those achievements, that's something we need to work on." The Center for Equity and Excellence in Education received the grant and will conduct a 26-month investigation in collaboration with California and New York state departments of education to identify the academic language demands implicit in state content standards for algebra and biology.
The showing at the city's Spanish spelling bee Friday was far from <i>raquítico</i> â€” a cognate for the English word rachitic, a medical term meaning sickly â€” as was the pride of winner Helena Cortina, 13. <i>Raquítico</i> was the winning word for the eighth-grade English-language-learner whose family recently arrived in Las Cruces from Spain's Canary Islands. Emma Galindo Armendáriz, director of bilingual programs for Las Cruces Public Schools, said the other contenders represented a range of students, from those learning Spanish as a second language to "our Chicanitos."
England's state schools are being barred from choosing pupils from middle-class families by the government's education watchdog on admissions. The schools have been hit by a series of rulings which block them from doing anything that might be seen as giving preferential treatment to middle-class applicants. The policy is being forced through by the government in a drive to use admissions to tackle "segregation" in society. The judgments, which set a precedent extending throughout the state school system, include banning headteachers from asking parents why they want to come to the school, in case this puts non-English speakers at a disadvantage.
Arizona has problems keeping Latino students in high school. It also lacks Spanish-speaking interpreters for hospitals, courts, and businesses. A project in Tucson for both middle and high school students is addressing both issues in a creative and empowering way.
Schools should be taking steps to get parents of English-language learners involved in their children's education despite the significant challenges, says a new policy brief from the researchers at Arizona State University. Doing so will help ELL students overcome the isolation many feel and give non-English speaking parents tools to help their children succeed in school.
In the face of discourage literacy statistics for the state of Arizona, the annual Tucson Citizen-Sunnyside Unified School District Town Hall recently focused on the theme of "Strong Literacy/Strong Community." The town hall brought together about 300 educators, parents, and children to try to come up with solutions to the literacy problem, and their ideas covered one large wall the school's gymnasium by the end of the evening. The ideas voted most important included increasing reading materials for children in their homes, opening school libraries to children during the summer when school is out, and challenging the state's new English Language Learners law. Parents also talked about how to get children away from video games and into books.
School administrators of a Massachusetts school district recently downplayed a new report released by state education officials that identified a series of deficiencies in the district's English Language Learner's (ELL) program. Amongst other findings, the report, the result of a 2006 visit to the school district, concludes that the city does not provide adequate materials, resources, and support to students enrolled in ELL offerings. The state also concluded that the district needs to prove that it has a proper system to allow ELL pupils to shift into the general education program, that students have equal access to all academic offerings, that annual assessments are conducted that measure student progress, and that parents are properly notified of their child's activities.
Nevada and national offices of the ACLU have jointly asked Esmeralda County to lift their English-only rule on school buses. The rule principally affects about a dozen Hispanic students. A staff attorney with the ACLU, says "the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate."