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New School in the Bronx for Older Immigrant Youth

Quality Counts 2009, which will be published by Education Week on Jan. 8, focuses on English-language learners, so you'll soon be able to read up-to-date information about state policies concerning these students across the nation. To help illustrate the diversity of English-language learners in this country in the report I visited a school that just opened in the Bronx this school year to serve immigrant youths from ages 16 to 20. Many students at that school had just arrived in New York City over the summer.

The school is called the English Language Learners and Support Preparatory Academy, ELLIS, for short, and it's featured in an article published yesterday by the Riverdale Press. (Hat tip to Gotham Schools.)

Norma A. Vega, the principal of the school, previously helped to found the Bronx International High School, another school for immigrants. She said she saw the need for a school for older immigrant youth because schools in the city aren't serving newcomers in that age bracket well and many don't get a regular high school diploma. "What's the alternative—a GED?" she said. "I don't want kids to come in and take the GED in Spanish—and get some low-paying job. ... They are entitled to the same opportunities as any middle-class kids."

It seemed to me that the school's small size (76 students when I visited in September), the energy and open-mindedness of the teachers, and the experience the principal had with educating immigrant students were important factors in creating what many students at the new school told me was a meaningful learning environment.

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