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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'In Miami, You Need to Speak Two Languages Anyway'

On a Wednesday afternoon at Lorah Park Elementary School in Brownsville, a half dozen 4-year-olds are clustered on the carpet trying to keep up with a song on Spanish greetings. In another room, second graders try their hand at a series of dizzying Spanish tongue twisters—“Como poco coco como, poco coco compro.” (Since I don’t eat much coconut, I don’t buy much either.”) This is Lorah Park Elementary's after-school “Spanish Club,” held for an hour in each grade two afternoons a week.

Low Pay, High SF Housing Costs Equal 1 Homeless Math Teacher

Etoria Cheeks teaches math at a public high school in San Francisco, explaining algebra and statistics to teenagers. But it's the math behind her housing predicament that simply doesn't add up. In a shocking indication of just how bad San Francisco's teacher housing situation is, Cheeks is homeless. She's a professional with a teaching credential and master's degree in one of the richest cities in the world who cannot find housing.

High-Stakes Poetry Competition Brings Students to the Stage

Backstage at the Poetry Out Loud finals held here this month, nerves were on edge. After two days of competition, 53 state-winners had been whittled down to just three finalists.  As the judges tallied up the scores, the three high school students paced and hugged each other. This was the culmination of hours and sometimes years of work. The students had each memorized three poems and recited them on stage. They were judged on everything from overall performance to accuracy to their interpretation of the poet's words. The competition, now in its 12th year, begins in classrooms around the country. Students memorize and recite poems, choosing from a list of over 900 options. Classroom winners compete at their schools, then regionally, and eventually at their state finals. This year, over 300,000 students from 2,300 high schools took part. 

‘What if I’m not there?’: Deportation Threat Has Undocumented Immigrants Seeking Guardians for U.S.-Born Children

In a church hall in Northern Virginia, a father of two named Jose sat at a long table and stared at the legal document before him. It was a road map for life without him.  With his index finger tracing each line, he read how the guardian would bring the girls to school and day care, decide who will pick them up, and have the power to book airline tickets on their behalf so the children could reunite with their parents in Central America. The next line highlighted the power to make decisions if either girl was hospitalized. At this, Jose froze. "That's when they need me," he said to himself. "What if I'm not there?" It is a question thousands of undocumented immigrants are asking across the United States, in the apple orchards outside Spokane, Wash., the blueberry fields near Grand Rapids, Mich., and at churches and community centers in Maryland and Virginia.

USM Student Hamdia Ahmed Inspires Others to Rally Behind American Dream

Nearly 12 years ago, Hamdia Ahmed boarded a plane bound for America. She had spent nearly all her young life in the Dadaab in Kenya, the world's largest refugee camp, along with hundreds of thousands of other Somalis fleeing civil war. And she had no knowledge of the country she would be calling home. Now the 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Southern Maine is finding her voice advocating for Portland's Muslim and immigrant community.

Lawmaker's Call to Screen ELLs for Deportation Draws Condemnation

A Republican lawmaker in Oklahoma wants to round up the state's English-language-learner students in K-12 schools to be screened for deportation—a move that would violate federal law. According to Tulsa's News 9, state Rep. Mike Ritze of Tulsa says the newly formed Republican Platform Caucus would like to identify the 80,000-plus ELL students and "then turn them over to ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to see if they are citizens." The caucus believes that rounding up the students could save the state up to $60 million. It's unclear how they reached that dollar amount. The proposal for mass deportation is part of a plan to fix the state's $878 million budget shortfall. While explaining the plan, Ritze questioned whether the state has to educate undocumented students. It does.

Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis Claims Another Casualty: Its Schools

Natalia Hernández stood before dawn with a bullhorn in her hand in front of the mountainside elementary school that four generations of her family attended, rattling off its academic accomplishments. More than half the pupils are on the honor roll. There are tutors, a social worker and even a speech therapist, she said. But there has been an exodus of families from Puerto Rico in the face of its economic collapse, so little Luis Santaella School has a big problem: Only 146 children are enrolled compared with about 250 in the past. And so, like 178 other schools across the island, it is set to close after the last day of the school term this week, in part to help Puerto Rico battle debt and pension obligations of $123 billion. The school, perched alongside a winding two-lane road 1,400 feet above sea level, will join the many casualties of a fiscal crisis that forced Puerto Rico to declare a form of bankruptcy last week and sent hundreds of thousands of people packing in the past decade.

Washington D.C.'s demand for bilingual workers is booming. Should D.C. schools offer more dual-language programs?

Advocates for bilingual education and District leaders argued Thursday that the Washington region’s workforce has a growing demand for bilingual speakers that could be filled by D.C. public school graduates if the school system boosted its dual-language education programs. The panel discussion featured D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, school leaders from Delaware and New York, an economics researcher and the Swiss ambassador to the United States, who highlighted the advantages of bilingualism in Switzerland.

What Can Educators Do to Increase Graduation Rates for English-Learners?

Schools that want to improve the educational prospects for English-language learners should take account of what's happening in their students' lives outside the classroom, a new report from the research arm of America's Promise Alliance finds. "I Came Here to Learn," the report by the Boston-based Center for Promise, sought to find out why the graduation rate for students whose first language isn't English lags behind those of their native English-speaking peers, in Massachusetts and elsewhere. 

Opinion: The Arts Help Refugees, Other Students to Master Academics

Bobby Riley is the principal of Integrated Arts Academy, Burlington, Vermont and the 2016 National Distinguished Principal for Vermont, honored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Cheri Sterman is the Director of Education for Crayola and on the Executive Board of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. In this column, they write, "As more schools across the country experiment with personalized learning approaches to better meet the needs, goals and interests of individual learners, many are overlooking an important piece: arts integration. That’s one reason the Integrated Arts Academy of Burlington, Vermont, got together with Crayola’s art-focused professional learning programs, channeling resources to identify reasons why infusing arts into other subjects can make personalized learning programs more effective. The Academy is a magnet elementary school is located in a U.S. State Department Refugee Resettlement Area that houses families from dozens of nations."

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