August 2008 Archives

It's Not Just Latinos Who Are Undocumented

There's a good reason why a couple of Korean-American organizations have put out a guide to K-12 and post-secondary education in California for Asian immigrants: a rather large number of Asian immigrants are undocumented. The guide spells out what opportunities undocumented immigrants have for an education in this country. As most readers of this blog probably know, they are entitled to a free education in grades K-12, but whether they have the opportunity to go to college depends on their financial resources and whether their states have policies that permit them to enroll. Here are some statistics cited in the ...


A "Brain-Based" Carnival of Education

Sharp Brains posted today the 186th edition of the Carnival of Education. The Q&A format is very readable. Let me note that Sharp Brains incorrectly quotes my blog item about graduation rates for ELLs in New York City in saying that 45.5 percent of ELLs are newcomers. In fact, the blog entry says it's 45.5 percent of ELLs in grades 8-12 who are newcomers. (Aug. 28 Update: Sharp Brains has now corrected this.) But I have asked the city's Department of Education to provide the data for K-7 ELL students as well so we have a fuller ...


Early Literacy and ELLs

At least one educator, Ted Hirsch, thinks New York City's new $2.4 million, three-year early literacy program could really help English-language learners. Mr. Hirsch, the principal for K-6 students at South Shore Charter School in Norwell, Mass., made this claim in an interview with a television station after the program was announced this week by Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. The reading program was created by the Core Knowledge Foundation and is being implemented in 10 high-needs schools, according to an Aug. 26 New York Times article. The founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation is E.D. Hirsch Jr., ...


Second-Generation Immigrants: Inheritors of the Big Apple

A 10-year study by professors at Harvard University and City of University of New York shows that most of the second-generation immigrants to that city are fluent in English and working in the mainstream economy, according to a description of its findings at National Public Radio. The authors of the study, Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age, found the following differences between groups, the NPR summary says: When they looked at economic and educational achievement, [the researchers] found that West Indians were doing better, in general, than African-Americans; Dominicans were doing better than Puerto Ricans; and ...


Where do Hispanic Public School Students Live?

In case there was ever any question, a Pew Hispanic Center report released today confirms that some states are more likely than others to receive Hispanic students who have been born outside of the United States rather than on U.S. soil. This has implications for schools because the Pew report on demographics of Hispanic students also shows that U.S.-born Hispanic students are much more likely to report they speak English "very well" than are foreign-born Hispanic students. Thus the schools receiving Hispanics born in other countries have a larger English-language gap to fill to help them catch ...


ELLs in Elgin, Illinois, Alleged to be Underserved

A blog reader points out that I can add Elgin Area School District to my list of large school systems or states that have come under fire this summer for how they serve English-language learners. This month a federal judge granted class-action status to a racial bias lawsuit filed in February 2005 against Elgin Area School District U-46, which is Illinois' second-largest school system and is located in a Chicago suburb, according to the Daily Herald. (Click here for the Chicago Tribune's coverage.) An article published on Aug. 21 gives details about how, along with making complaints that Hispanics and ...


The Graduation Rate for ELLs in the Big Apple

Eduwonkette has been having a field day blogging about graduation rate data in the Big Apple. But she hasn't yet delved into why the city's graduation rate for ELLs is so low. The four-year graduation rate for ELLs is 23.5 percent, compared with 55.8 percent for all students. For the 2007-08 school year, New York City public schools enrolled 138,500 ELLs. I took a tip from eduwonkette (update: she revealed her true identity yesterday) and asked for some additional data from the New York City Department of Education that might indicate whether the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ...


Somalis and Burundians

Remember the media circus surrounding Lewiston, Maine, where in 2002, then-Mayor Larry Raymond sent a letter asking Somalis to stop moving to the town because it didn't have a social service infrastructure that could adequately meet their needs? An article in the September American School Board Journal brings us up to date with how educators in Lewiston public schools worked before and after that infamous letter to help Somalis integrate into the community. Today, Lewiston has nearly 3,500 Somalis among its 36,000 residents. At one elementary school featured in the article, the Somalis receive math and English in ...


Higher Ed Bill and Teacher Prep for ELLs

For the first time, a federal education law requires colleges and universities to do SOMETHING in regard to preparing teachers to work with English-language learners. The bill, signed into law on Aug. 14 by President Bush, requires colleges and universities to set annual goals for increasing the number of teachers for instruction of ELLs and other areas where there are teacher shortages. Here's what the new higher education law (search for the enrolled version of H.R. 4137 on Thomas) says under Title II, Section 206: Each institution of higher education that conducts a traditional teacher preparation program (including programs ...


A Good Read: Son of Undocumented Parents Wins the Gold

Don't miss the New York Times story about Henry Cejudo, who won the 121-pound freestyle wrestling final yesterday in the Olympics (hat tip to ImmigrationProf Blog). His mom entered the United States illegally from Mexico and struggled over the years to put food on the table for her seven children. Take note of how, like with Lopez Lomong, the Sudanese refugee who competed for the United States in the 1,500-meter race at the Olympics, educators played a role in helping Mr. Cejudo to become a star. Frank Saenz, Cejudo’s coach at Maryvale High School, was the one who ...


"If It Was Not For You Guys, I'd Be Dead"

An administrator for Tucson Unified School District defends the Raza studies program in the school district by quoting students who say the program helped save their lives. Augustine F. Romero, the senior director of the district's Mexican American/Raza Studies Department, says in his remarks to the press that the program has helped many students to "transcend the nihilistic state of hopelessness." He mentions that students are taught lessons from history, such as about the role of Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution, and comparative politics. Excerpts of an interview with Mr. Romero are published today in The Arizona Republic. ...


Memo Subject: New York City's "Crisis" in Educating ELLs

I've been keeping track of state or city school systems that have been criticized publicly this summer for giving English-language learners short shrift. On the list are Texas, Massachusetts, and Seattle. Today I add New York City. Luis O. Reyes, a former school board member in New York City, forwarded a memo to me that was sent to New York State Education Commissioner Richard Mills by the Coalition for Educational Excellence for English Language Learners, a group of organizations and educators who keep an eye on services for ELLs in New York City. People who signed the memo include Maria ...


Democratic Platform Mentions ELLs

Over at Campaign K-12, my colleague Michele McNeil notes that the Democratic National Committee has posted its education policy positions online. The 94-page document contains the following sentences about English-language learners and language learning in general: We will also meet our commitment to special education and to students who are English Language Learners. We support full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We also support transitional bilingual education and will help limited English proficient students get ahead by supporting and funding English Language Learner classes. We support teaching students second languages, as well as contributing through education to ...


Education Blogging Veteran Hosts Ed Carnival

While I was taking a short break from e-mail and work in general, Joanne Jacobs posted the latest education blog carnival. She included a recent blog entry from Learning the Language, "Immigrant Integration, or Assimilation?," which includes several comments from all of you. Thanks for making the entry richer with your remarks. Joanne Jacobs was a pioneer in the education blogging world and is quick to post education news before many other folks—even sometimes in the area of my specialty, English-language learners, which doesn't seem to be on the radar screen of some education bloggers....


Ban Upheld by North Carolina Community Colleges

North Carolina education officials have decided to continue a policy they put in place in May that bans undocumented students from community colleges in the state. The officials, however, indicated they plan to study the issue and could, once again, change their minds, according to an Associated Press story published on Friday....


Last Blog Break for the Summer

I'm taking next week off. I'll be back to blogging again on Aug. 18 and to work on the first issue of Education Week for the new school year. If you've noticed some aspect of educating ELLs that I've overlooked and I really ought to write about this coming school year, drop me a line at mzehr@epe.org....


Audit Says Seattle's ELL Programs Need Overhaul

Seattle Public Schools' program for English-language learners is in bad shape, according to an audit by the Council of the Great City Schools released this week. The voluntary audit says the program is "highly fragmented, weakly defined, poorly monitored, and producing very unsatisfactory academic results." See the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Aug. 7 article, which contains a link to the report. The audit was requested by school board members and the system's new superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and it gives them credit for wanting to improve the program for ELLs. The Seattle district doesn't track ELLs well, and many ELLs aren't getting any ...


Tide Turns--At Least Temporarily--for Deportable Teen

Remember Arthur Mkoyan, the valedictorian at Bullard High School in Fresno, Calif., who was scheduled to be deported after commencement? Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, introduced a private bill in the U.S. Congress that postpones deportation and could lead to permanent residency for the youth and his family. While the bill is pending, a stranger has stepped forward and committed to pay for the 17-year-old's education at the University of California, Davis. She has pledged to pay for tuition and expenses for all four years. (Of course, if he were in living in South Carolina, he wouldn't ...


Sudanese Refugee to Lead U.S. Team at Opening Ceremony

I find it moving that the U.S. Olympic team has chosen Lopez Lomong, a Sudanese refugee and 1,500-meter track runner, to lead the team in the procession during the Olympics' opening ceremony in Beijing on Friday. (Hat tip to ImmigrationProf Blog.) He's one of the thousands of "Lost Boys" from Sudan—who had been separated from their parents or orphaned in war—and were resettled in the United States starting in 2001. (At the time, I wrote about several Sudanese resettled in Philadelphia). It's amazing that he's become a national star in the United States after having suffered...


Keeping Indigenous Languages Alive

I hope you've gotten the message already that although I recognize the benefits for anyone living in this country to learn English, I don't believe English should be valued over anyone's native language or the language of one's heritage. Unfortunately, this country has a history of official discrimination against American Indian languages that contributed greatly to their decline. One of the most damaging policies in this regard was that the federal government forced many Native Americans to attend boarding schools, starting in the 1870s, where they were prohibited from speaking their native languages. Most off-reservation boarding schools were closed in ...


Hey, I Was Going to Blog About Three Cups of Tea!

I'd been planning to recommend Three Cups of Tea, about Greg Mortenson's adventures in building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to you for summer reading, but eduwonk beat me to it. Not very wonkish of them, is it, to get into the business of recommending books for summer free time? Anyway, it's the best book I've read that gives insight into the lack of education in rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it's good background knowledge for anyone in this country who has students in their schools from those countries. The book portrays Mr. Mortenson (he's a co-author with ...


Resource: Freepoverty.com

Students in the United States have a reputation for lacking knowledge in geography compared with their peers around the world. What about the readers of this blog? Many readers are academics or educators who work with English-language learners in the United States and have more interaction with people born in other countries than do many people in the U.S. You can get a sense for your own skills in geography through the Web site, freepoverty.com. The computer feeds you the names of cities and other places from around the world and it's your job to put each one ...


Editorial Says Massachusetts Is Failing Its ELLs

I'll give you one reason why Massachusetts legislators and educators might want to pay careful attention to an editorial about English-language learners in their state published this morning in the Boston Globe: the lawyers who wrote it were key players in convincing a federal judge to rule last month that Texas has violated federal law by not adequately serving ELLs at the secondary level. The editorial's authors are Roger Rice and Jane Lopez, lawyers for Multicultural Education, Training, and Advocacy, or META, in Somerville, Mass. Along with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, META represented plaintiffs in the ...


Immigrant Integration, or Assimilation?

The topic of "immigrant integration" has become a buzz phrase here in the nation's capital, but some continue to prefer to use the word "assimilation" instead. Two years ago, President Bush weighed in on the issue of how to help immigrants find a place in American society, putting out an executive order to form a "Task Force on New Americans" within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The goal of establishing such a task force was "to help legal immigrants embrace the common core of American civic culture, learn our common language, and fully become Americans." The task force ...


EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival is Up

Everyone else has a blogging carnival, why shouldn't we who write about English-language learners? EFL Classroom 2.0 has hosted this one. One of my blog entries, discussing "push-in" versus "pull-out" ESL, was selected. Thanks to all of you who made that entry much more interesting with your comments....


Texas State Legislator: Study the Data

Texas State Rep. Roberto Alonzo's call for the legislature to form a task force to respond to U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice's July 25 ruling on programs for English-language learners seems wise, though let me be clear that I'm not taking a stand in this blog on the ruling itself. Mr. Alonzo wrote yesterday in the Rio Grande Guardian (hat tip to Educational Equity, Politics & Policy in Texas) that members of the Texas legislature must "be well-prepared, educated on the issue, and well-versed on the statistical data to help support and keep Judge Justice's decision intact." Being educated ...


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