"This Strange Thing Called Prom" is a beautifully written tale published in The New York Times about how a group of seniors at the International High School at Prospect Heights (in Brooklyn) carry out their version of an American prom. (Hat tip to This Week in Education.) The students of the school are all immigrants, and I love how the writer portrays the tension between the students' appreciating where they come from, yet wanting to embrace an idea that is part of American culture. Though I'm an American who was born and raised in the United States, I actually never ...


The Flypaper has decided to join Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and conservative talk show hosts in condemning the teaching of Mexican-American/Raza Studies in Tucson Unified School District in Arizona. The blog points to a commentary by a teacher who taught a U.S. history course with a Mexican-American perspective as part of the Tucson program in the 2002-2003 school year. That teacher felt the curriculum was biased and "engendered racial hostility." Liam Julian at Flypaper points out that teachers who teach the courses with a Mexican-American perspective in Tucson are invited to attend a seminar in ...


To read the story of how Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento got out of "program improvement" under the No Child Left Behind Act from two of the educators who were involved, check out "The Positive Impact of English Language Learners at an Urban School," published recently in Language Magazine (for the edited article, you'll have to subscribe). More than half of the school's students are English-language learners. In the article, Ted Appel, the principal of Luther Burbank, and Larry Ferlazzo, a social studies and English teacher at the school, say that they try to create life-long learners rather than "teach...


Maryland's governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has recently signed into law a bill that sets up a task force to preserve "heritage-language skills," or the language skills of people exposed to a language other than English at home, according to a June 23 commentary in the Baltimore Sun. Catherine Ingold, the director of the University of Maryland's National Foreign Language Center and author of the piece, explains how this simple step by Maryland's governor is unusual. She contends that the No Child Left Behind Act is one policy that makes it harder to develop skills of heritage speakers because it ...


School officials in Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana are considering barring students from speaking a foreign language during commencement speeches, according to an Associated Press article published today in The New York Times. The proposal came about after Cindy Vo, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants and a co-valedictorian at Ellender High School, recited a sentence in Vietnamese to honor her parents, who are not fluent in English. She translated the sentence into English during the speech, which was a command to always be your own person, the article says. (July 1 update: Here's a longer version of the AP story. Cindy ...


To read the bad news about the academic progress of ELLs in this country, you have to read beyond the executive summary of a two-year evaluation of ELL programs that the U.S. Department of Education sent to Congress yesterday. It's called "The Biennial Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Title III State Formula Grant Program: School Years 2004-06" and is supposed to be put online next Monday by the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition. (June 30 update: Find the pdf here.) A brief article that I wrote today about the report was just posted at edweek.org....


The Pew Hispanic Center today released a report by Richard Fry, a senior research associate at the center, showing that schools that report low achievement for ELLs also tend to have a set of characteristics associated with poor student performance on tests. Those characteristics include high student-teacher ratios, large student enrollments, and high levels of students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunches. The report says that when ELLs aren't isolated in such schools, they do considerably better on standardized tests. See my story published today at edweek.org, "Schools With Poor ELL Scores May Share Common Elements." The report is ...


Not many Native American children have teachers who expose them to the traditional languages of Native communities in school, according to a study released today by the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education called "National Indian Education Study 2007: Part II." For 87 percent of Native American 4th graders and 8th graders, reading and language arts are delivered entirely in English. I wrote about the study today for edweek.org. It's well known that Native American communities in the United States have experienced tremendous loss of their traditional languages. The study indicates that not a ...


"The more words you know, the easier it is to acquire new words," said David J. Francis, a professor of quantitative methods in the psychology department of the University of Houston, while presenting a study about teaching vocabulary to English-language learners at a conference of the Institute of Education Sciences this month in Washington. Mr. Francis argued at a June 11 session about ELLs that schools need to do a better job of infusing the teaching of vocabulary across a school's whole curricula. Mr. Francis noted that the Reading First Impact Study, released in May, shows that children in Reading ...


A comment by Zoe Ann about a recent blog entry on how some schools are moving toward a push-in model and away from a pull-out model for teaching English as a second language, sent me in pursuit of research on the effectiveness of either educational approach. The answer so far (readers, tell me if I'm missing something): There's not much out there. With the push-in approach, ESL teachers work with ELLs in their regular classrooms; with the pull-out approach, ESL teachers work with such students in separate classrooms, whether for one period a day or a much longer time. Two ...


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