Demographically speaking--if one can really speak that way--the U.S. Department of Education appears to have picked the right school district to give a grant for training teachers of English-language learners. It's in the metropolitan area with the fastest-growing Hispanic-student population in the nation, and many of those students likely are ELLs. Are you thinking Texas or Florida or California? Think again. We're talking Arkansas. The University of Arkansas, in partnership with the school district of Springdale, Ark., just received a federal grant of $1.3 million to train 100 English-as-a-second-language teachers over the next five years, according to the ...


It's been interesting to see how readers of this blog have expressed what they think of Diane Ravitch's definition for bilingual education that appears in her new book about education jargon. See my earlier post, "Plenty of 'Edspeak' to Go Around." Since some readers relayed what they presume is her philosophy concerning bilingual education or the education of Hispanic students, I asked Ms. Ravitch if she wanted to respond to comments. I also asked if she wanted to defend her definition or acknowledge that it could be improved. Here's what she said: "The definition of bilingual education in my book ...


In her book about educational jargon published in July, education historian Diane Ravitch includes a number of terms I hear tossed around in the field of educating English-language learners. I confess that I toss some of those terms around myself. In the preface of EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon, Ms. Ravitch writes that while a specialized vocabulary may help people working in a particular field to discuss "sophisticated ideas that are beyond the understanding of the average citizen," the result, "is to mystify the public." I applaud Ms. Ravitch for trying to translate educational terms ...


Saul Arellano may be one of the most well-known schoolchildren in the United States whose mother has been deported. Saul's mother, Elvira Arellano, 32, is an undocumented immigrant who lived in the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago for a year to avoid being deported and separated from her son, who is 8 and a U.S. citizen. The boy participated in rallies and met with Washington politicians and Mexican officials in a campaign to try to persuade U.S. immigration authorities to let his mother stay in the United States, according to a May 8 interview with the boy ...


Some Arkansas lawmakers are looking into how much it costs the state to educate children of undocumented immigrants. But at a recent legislative hearing, they couldn't get a simple answer from Andre Guerrero, the director of programs for language-minority students in the state. Mr. Guerrero told me in a phone interview last week that he was questioned for about an hour at the Aug. 14 hearing on the issue. "They wanted to know why we can’t collect data to determine if people are here legally or illegally—why we couldn’t ask for social security numbers and so forth,"...


A Dallas Morning News article published today explores whether schools should move toward replacing transitional bilingual education programs with dual-language immersion programs. The article tells how in Texas, some school districts are doing this. With transitional bilingual education, children receive some instruction in their native language while transitioning into English; such programs do not necessarily aim to have students maintain their native language. By contrast, dual-language programs aim for children to become literate and understand academic content in both their native language and English over the long haul. In many dual-language programs, children who speak Spanish and children who speak ...


Every once in a while, I hear of a situation in which a school district employee doesn't know that children are entitled to a free K-12 public education in this country regardless of their immigration status—and causes unnecessary problems for immigrant parents. That reportedly was the case with the assistant of the superintendent of the North Chicago Community Unit School District #187, in North Chicago, Ill., who is accused of telling a parent she couldn't enroll her child in school without providing proof of legal residency or work authorization. A regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and ...


Back in March, an official from the office of English language acquisition for the U.S. Department of Education told me the department was just about ready to send a two-year evaluation of programs for English-language learners to the U.S. Congress. It's now mid-August, and the report has yet to have been released. The No Child Left Behind Act requires that the U.S. Secretary of Education give an evaluation of programs funded under Title III, Part A, of the act to Congress every two years. (Click here for a description of the evaluation.) Title III is the section ...


I've been struck by the close relationships that recruiters for the federal migrant education program form with immigrant families. For one thing, they're more likely to find themselves visiting homes of families than many educators are. "I get invited to birthday parties, baptisms, and quinceañeras," Dorca L. Oyola, a native of Puerto Rico who recruits families for the federal migrant education program in Chester County, Pa., told me this summer while I was reporting on the program for Education Week. "I go and I recruit right there." Recruiting families means making sure they know that supplemental educational services are available ...


While the federal government requires school districts to communicate with immigrant parents "to the extent practicable" in languages they can understand, doing so is seldom a simple matter. An article that ran Aug. 13 in The New York Times provides insight into the challenges of translating school documents into many different languages. I wrote about the New York City Education Department's decision to set up a centralized office for translation and about efforts by other school districts to communicate with parents who don't speak English in October 2004. Readers, I'd like to hear how your school districts are trying to ...


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