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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ELLs Live Between Two Cultures

Nan Pang arrived in Newton, MA three years ago, armed only with the English he had learned in a classroom in Japan. He was incredibly shy, caged by his inability to find the right words to communicate to his peers in this new country. Three years after his arrival at Newton South High School, and now a junior, his teachers proudly boast that he'll be part of the mainstream curriculum next year. He's participating in tennis and just designed a mural in the stairwell of Newton South. Success stories like Pang's are springing up all over Newton schools: students overcoming a language barrier and sliding comfortably into a new culture — a task that some adults take a lifetime to achieve.

Courting Minority Students to Study the Environment

"Anybody here from Queens?" The question seemed natural enough, coming from a large young man wearing a Yankees cap. But it was by no means just small talk. David Lucero grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and he was trying to connect with a group of students in a large classroom overflowing with plants and fish tanks at the High School for Environmental Studies on Manhattan's West Side. Mr. Lucero, 22, will soon begin a doctoral program in molecular biology and genetics at the University of Vermont. When he spent a day at the high school recently, his prime goal was to encourage other Latino students, as well as black and Asian-American students, to pursue environmental studies in college and as a career.

Trend Watch: Native-Language Testing

In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "New Jersey recently began providing some state tests for English-language learners in Spanish, and thus joined a dozen states that provide versions of their state tests in languages other than English. In addition, Washington state has set a tentative goal of translating state tests into 10 languages by 2009. I got this information about New Jersey and Washington from communications staff for departments of education in those states after Charles W. Stansfield, the president and founder of Second Language Testing, Inc., told me that the group of states developing or providing native-language assessments is growing."

Professor Finds Publishing Niche with Bilingual Biographies for Kids

Inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and passion to share Latino stories with children, Monica Brown's writing career is taking off like one of magic carpets she writes about in her newest bilingual biography for kids. <em>My Name is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez</em>, published by Luna Rising, sold nearly 10,000 copies in its first three months. "<em>Gabito</em> is not only a biography, but a book about imagination, observation and the unending possibilities of our own creativity," said Brown, an associate professor of English at Northern Arizona University, who specializes in multicultural literature and cultural studies. "Gabriel García Márquez was one of my earliest literary inspirations, and I wanted to introduce children to the concept of magic realism."

Editorial: The Challenge of Immigrant Students

If there is one take-away from this newspaper's exhaustive series last week on the complicated journey immigrant students make through Dallas public schools, it is this: Students' backgrounds are as important to their success as what happens in the classroom.

Democrats Offer Plans to Revamp Schools Law

Democrats are dividing into camps as they debate a new course for education policy after President Bush leaves office. Last week, one group said the United States' public schools shortchanged poor black and Latino children in a way that was "shameful," and urged Washington to squeeze teachers and administrators harder to raise achievement among minorities. A second group of about 60 prominent educators and academics issued another manifesto, which criticized the federal No Child Left Behind law and argued that schools alone could not close a racial achievement gap rooted in economic inequality. They urged a new emphasis on health clinics and other antipoverty programs that could help poor students arrive at school ready to learn.

Arlington, VA Schools Candidacy Captures Latino Imagination

In Bolivia last month on business, Diego Arias of Virginia's Arlington County picked up a newspaper and stopped at a familiar face. Prominently placed on the third page, in a section separating winners from losers, was a photograph of Emma Violand-Sanchez. Somehow the landlocked South American nation that Violand-Sanchez left as a teenager more than four decades ago not only knew about her victory in a party caucus to endorse Arlington School Board candidates but also considered the development newsworthy. The Democratic caucus, held last month to make endorsements for two School Board seats at stake in the fall election, had a record turnout, and Violand-Sanchez received more votes than the five other candidates, including an incumbent, who placed second.

A Children's Book, Written in English and Hmong

Teachers who work with English-language learners in Sacramento, Calif., in St. Paul, Minn., and in other communities with many Hmong immigrants are usually familiar with "story cloths." On a large piece of fabric, the Hmong embroider scenes that tell the stories of their people. A new children's book, <em>Grandfather's Story Cloth</em>, published by Shen's Books, tells how a Hmong boy, Chersheng, uses a story cloth once made by his grandfather to help the old man to recall memories that are quickly slipping away. The story is written by Linda Gerdner, a nurse, and Sarah Langford, a nursing student, and is illustrated by Stuart Loughridge.

Report Takes Aim at 'Model Minority' Stereotype of Asian-American Students

The image of Asian-Americans as a homogeneous group of high achievers taking over the campuses of the nation's most selective colleges came under assault in a report issued Monday. The report, by New York University, the College Board and a commission of mostly Asian-American educators and community leaders, largely avoids the debates over both affirmative action and the heavy representation of Asian-Americans at the most selective colleges.

Child-Poverty Jump in Colorado Leads Nation

Almost twice as many Colorado children are living in poverty as in 2000, making the state's population of impoverished kids the fastest growing in the nation, according to a Colorado Children's Campaign report to be released today. Roughly 180,000 of the state's children — infants through high schoolers — lived in poverty in 2006, according to the report. That is a 73 percent increase since 2000, researchers concluded by using census and community survey data for the annual statistical review, KidsCount. It is, by far, the largest jump in the nation. Second to Colorado is New Hampshire, which saw about a 50 percent increase over the same period.