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Obama Visits School Where Large Number of Students Are ELLs

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Yesterday, President Obama visited a charter school in Madison, Wis., where 39 percent of students are English-language learners. But I don't see anything in news coverage about his visit that says he mentioned the educational needs of ELLs. (See update below.) It seems like a missed opportunity.

An editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal says the school, James C. Wright Middle School, takes an inclusive approach to educating ELLs and students with disabilities, which includes co-teaching and support for a universally designed curriculum. I'm intrigued.

Update: I skimmed his speech and see that President Obama did mention English-language learners at one point, saying that a commitment to education means "boosting the numbers of quality teachers who can help our special education and English-language learners meet high standards—as you've done here at Wright." But that still doesn't tell us much.

The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, Wis., reports the president mentioned he was working to ensure that children of undocumented immigrants can go to college. I interpret that statement as the president's reiteration of this support for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or "DREAM Act." The president's remark also likely indicates he realized a lot of his audience were Latinos, many of whom support that act.

But it would have been great if the president could have highlighted some ways that Wright Middle School is successful with ELLs, if in fact that is the case, since such students make up such a large proportion of the school population. Educators are looking for models for how to educate these students, particularly at the middle and high school levels.

2 Comments

This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM Act passes soon. These students really need help, infact about 25% of my students are undocumented. I am very glad they have a chance to live in the dream country. I am very proud of my students, as a DR with a PhD, and RN LCN and teaching a medical facility i am very proud of all of these students. Pass the law already!

Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me to be yet another criticism of Obama without cause. The president gave a great speech highlighting the accomplishments of a good school. It's not the job of the president to train other schools in how to experience the same success with ELLs as Wright has. He mentioned the issue, drawing attention to it, and spoke in support of the DREAM Act. It seems as though you already made up your mind to criticize the president for his lack of attention to ELLs before even reading the speech. Then, once realizing he had mentioned it, decided instead to criticize him for not having said enough. It doesn't seem fair.

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