Poet and novelist Margarita Engle found a kindred soul in Juan Francisco Manzano, a Cuban poet born into slavery in 1797. The one-time agronomy professor and daughter of a Cuban mother was so inspired by Manzano's story that she wrote a book of free-verse poetry about him, <i>The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano</i>, which has been selected as the American Library Association's 2008 Pura Belpre Award. The award is given along with the Newbery and Caldecott medals to a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator "whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."
Libreria México, a unique bookstore in east Salinas, California, has been recognized by its city council for its literacy promotion during the past quarter-century. The book store was established in 1982 by a family of Mexican immigrants. "The idea about our store was because my father believed in education," said Stella Sanchez, the business' owner. "He tried to get books for people who couldn't read in English, so they could read in Spanish." The store sells books, magazines, and newspapers in Spanish, filling a niche neglected locally by big corporations.
A week or two before a big game, Arkansas' Rogers High School hallways are often decorated with student-made signs exhorting the athletes to do their best. Next week, the signs will have a slightly different message. The signs, aimed at Hispanic students, will remind them to do their best on the upcoming 11th-grade literacy exam.
New Jersey's School Report Cards, released last week by the state Department of Education, show that the percentage of LEP, or Limited-English Proficient, students in the state is spreading into suburban districts. The expansion into suburban schools has increased the need for specialized programs and the demand for teachers certified in bilingual education and English as a Second Language.
Lorena Ellett is finding her way around this country with a little help from road maps like the Ozark Literacy Council and the Adult Education Center. Before she moved to the U.S. last year, Lorena worked as a health and safety engineer for the Ministry of Health for the government of Chile. In this country, her continued efforts to learn English are slowly yielding some results as she tries to find her way back to the work for which she was educated.
For the 21 students in Berman's West Hills Nevada Elementary School class — four African-Americans and 17 Latinos — the lesson emphasizes the differences between "home language" and the classroom. It's at the heart of a growing urgency at Los Angeles Unified School District that after more than 15 years of quiet awareness, more now needs to be done to meet the challenges faced by students whose native language is English but who speak vernacular dialects at home.
Speaking Spanish is a way for Hispanics to stay connected to their culture. However, the trend among Latino groups is a decrease in language proficiency as generations pass, according to a recent study. Those who do not speak Spanish have found other means to keep in touch with their roots.
The best way to learn a foreign language may be to surround yourself with native speakers. But if you can't manage a trip abroad the Internet and a broadband computer connection may do the job, too, bringing native speakers within electronic reach for hours of practice.
An Illinois school district can offer little help to juniors with limited English proficiency who in April will take the standard statewide achievement test, officials say. Such students formerly took a simplified test in English that attempted to measure academic progress in math and reading. However, state and federal education officials concluded last fall that the test didn't meet the testing requirements of federal No Child Left Behind legislation.
A second-grade science lesson on balance and motion at West View Elementary in Burlington attracts lots of eager volunteers. There's action and engagement, two hallmarks of good teaching. But there's something that, in some circles at least, is more controversial. The teacher, Miguel Rivas, conducts the entire class in Spanish.