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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'POV' Looks at a Student Who Escapes Syria's Strife for Los Angeles

The public television series "POV" opened its 30th season this week with an education-themed documentary that could not be more timely. The first show airing is "Dalya's Other Country," a 75-minute film about a schoolgirl and her family who fled the violence of Syria in 2012 and settled in Los Angeles. 

Ten Attorneys General Target DACA

Ten Republican state attorneys general on Thursday urged federal authorities to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a policy set by former U.S. President Barack Obama that protects from deportation nearly 600,000 immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents, known as "Dreamers." In a letter on Thursday, the Republican attorneys general asked that DHS abolish the DACA program going forward, while noting that the government did not have to rescind permits that had already been issued.  If the federal government does not withdraw DACA, the attorneys general said they would file a legal challenge to the program in federal court in Texas.

School Board Decisions Spur Onondaga Nation Protest

On Thursday evening, after the last day of classes at the Onondaga Nation School here, students and families plan to gather at the Tsha’ Thoñ’nhes, or sports pavilion, to celebrate the eighth graders. There will be singing and dancing. Parents will give the eighth graders beaded necklaces signifying their clans and the younger students will give them presents. While it will not be an official graduation ceremony, the families in the nation, south of Syracuse, hope to make it as festive as possible, to put an exclamation mark on the end of a year that is otherwise ending in uncertainty and discord. Since June 16, most parents have kept their children home from school. They are protesting what they see as disrespectful actions by the local school board, which manages the school under a contract with the state but has no Onondaga representatives. The families say that they and the nation's leadership have been excluded from decisions about hiring and budgeting.

Editorial: The Seal of Biliteracy Is a Distinction Worth Celebrating

The District of Columbia and 26 states, including Maryland and Virginia, offer school districts the option of adding the Seal of Biliteracy certification to diplomas — and students who grew up speaking English are eagerly seeking it out in their studies of languages from Spanish to Mandarin to American Sign Language. The rest of the country would do well to follow these states' lead. Bilingualism and biliteracy make individual students more competitive in the college application process and job market. Along the way, dual-language immersion helps students become better learners and thinkers generally and can help close the achievement gap not just for non-native English speakers but also for African American students and poor students. Cities and smaller communities also benefit from a biliterate population as they build business sectors with global reach.

GOP Health-Care Bill Could Strip Public Schools of Billions for Special Education

School superintendents across the country are raising alarms about the possibility that Republican health care legislation would curtail billions of dollars in annual funding they count on to help students with disabilities and poor children. For the past three decades, Medicaid has helped pay for services and equipment that schools provide to special-education students, as well as school-based health screening and treatment for children from low-income families. Now, educators from rural red states to the blue coasts are warning that the GOP push to shrink Medicaid spending will strip schools of what a national superintendents association estimates at up to $4 billion per year.

New Academic Standards Applied Retroactively Will Keep More Immigrant Students in ESL Next Year

Hundreds of Baltimore-area immigrant students and many others statewide may need to repeat or take additional English language classes next school year after state education officials retroactively raised the standards for English proficiency. State officials say the change, implemented in May, was needed to ensure students are prepared academically, but the new standard means more students must remain in ESOL, or English as a second language, classes, creating a backlog in the pipeline for moving the students through the program. It also threatens to burden school systems with additional costs. Margot Harris, who heads the ESL program at Patterson High School, a school with a large immigrant population, said that although raising the standard may have been necessary, it was unfair for state officials to do so at the end of the school year, long after students had taken the test. Students who took the test believing they would be leaving the ESOL program, she said.

Stanford and California Charter Association Release Guide on How to Protect Undocumented Students and Parents

A new guide on how to protect undocumented parents and students in California's public charter schools was released recently to address an increase in student anxiety and absences and a decline in parent participation in school activities in the wake of federal immigration policy changes. The 21-page guide called "Protecting Undocumented and Vulnerable Students" was created by Stanford Law School and the California Charter Schools Association in response to CCSA schools seeking guidance. The document provides schools with information about their legal obligations in providing education to undocumented students and actions that schools can take to fully protect the rights of these students and their families. And for undocumented immigrant families, it provides a guide to creating a school preparedness plan. According to CCSA, even though the guide was intended to support its charter school members to address those issues, it can also be a resource for school leaders of any public school in California and be made available for parents.

A Native Village in Alaska Where the Past Is Key to the Future

What does it mean to lose your land, your language, and your heritage? For Alaska Natives, these are existential threats. On a trip to Southeast Alaska, NPR’s Melissa Block traveled to one village that is finding new ways to survive: Klukwan, ancestral home of the Tlingit tribe.