I've been here in Rapid City, S.D., most of the week attending an "Indian Education Summit" hosted by the South Dakota Department of Education. Because of the loss of indigenous languages in Indian country, most American Indian children these days speak English as their first language. A local educator here (who declined to tell me his age except to say he's lived "many winters") told me, for example, that he's one of the 2 percent of Lakota people who are fluent in Lakota. In a breakout session about teaching strategies that take into consideration the culture of Native Americans, ...


Five percent of elementary and secondary school students in the United States both speak a language other than English at home AND "speak English with difficulty," according to a report released recently by the National Center for Education Statistics. (Corrected from earlier version of post.) Those are the children to whom this blog is devoted. I usually call them English-language learners. The 157-page report, "Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities," says that 20 percent of all school children in the United States are language-minority children, which means they speak a language other than English at ...


I'm returning to an issue I mentioned in an earlier post, about whether providing the option for students to take tests for many years in their native languages—and by extension, whether offering bilingual education—results somehow in a slowing down of students' learning of English. I raised this issue when blogging that U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has objected to a provision in the House Education and Labor Committee's "discussion draft" for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act involving English-language learners. The provision would permit school districts to give ELLs state tests in their native languages...


An article of mine published in Digital Directions, a new publication of Education Week, highlights viewpoints from teachers on the benefits and challenges of using technology with English-language learners. For example, some say it's best to highlight the interactive aspects of new technology to help the students practice their language skills. Please use the comment section on this blog to share any insights you have about using technology with this group of students....


The Education Commission of the States has just released an up-to-date list of which states provide in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants enrolled in their state colleges and universities. As of June, the document says, 10 states had passed legislation that enables students living illegally in the country to pay the in-state rates. They are: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington. I've met some high school guidance counselors or teachers who have told me they sometimes end up trying to help undocumented students research ways to finance a college education. Whether a state ...


I've been out of the office for a couple of days, so it's only now that I draw your attention to testimony by various organizations before the House Education and Labor Committee regarding provisions for English-language learners proposed in a "discussion draft" for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act. Two civil rights groups—the National Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund—seem to have had the ear of members of Congress shaping reauthorization issues for ELLs all along, so it's not surprising that representatives from those groups testified on Sept. 10 in favor...


I've been writing a lot more about education policy on this blog than I intended. Part of the reason is that it seems that every time I turn around, someone has new ideas--or more proposals--on how to reauthorize provisions for English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act. So on Friday, at the end of the work week, I took a break and browsed Dave's ESL Cafe, a Web site that's been around longer than the seven years I've been writing about ELLs for Education Week. Dave Sperling launched the site, which evolved from an online "ESL Graffiti Wall," ...


The House Labor and Education Committee has released a discussion draft for reauthorizing the Title III section of the No Child Left Behind Act that charges the U.S. Secretary of Education with figuring out a method to identify English-language learners that can be used to reliably distribute funds for such students. Title III is the section of the federal education law that authorizes funding for English-acquisition programs. A summary of the discussion draft says that requirement is meant to address recommendations contained in a December 2006 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office pointing out problems with the ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings doesn't like some of the provisions for English-language learners in a preliminary proposal by leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. (See previous post, here.) In a letter she sent today to Rep. George Miller, a Democrat from California who is chairman of the committee, she criticized the proposal that school districts could let English-language learners take tests in their native language for up to five years, with the option of extending that time by two more years on a case-by-case basis. "That's ...


Until this week, I'd never heard of Jose-Pablo Fernandez. He's the former director of the Mexican Institute of Houston, and he just won a $10,000 Purpose Prize for his creation of a program to teach computer courses in Spanish to parents at the same schools their children attend. The program, which also encourages parents to get involved in their children's education, is now offered in 110 schools and community centers in Houston, San Antonio, and Beaumont, Texas. The Purpose Prize is given to people in their "second half of life working on critical social issues," according to a press ...


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