Remember the $21 million in federal fines that the state of Arizona racked up more than a year ago because state legislators and Gov. Janet Napolitano couldn't agree on how to meet a federal court order to adequately pay for the education of English-language learners? An appeals court later decided the state wouldn't have to pay the fines. But the legislature isn't out of hot water yet, according to an article published today in the Arizona Republic. Lawmakers adjourned last week without resolving the issue, and the federal judge in the long-running case, Flores v. Arizona, has rejected their request ...


While on vacation--and kayaking down a Maryland river--I unexpectedly met some English-language learners and heard about an innovative extracurricular program they participated in at a Baltimore high school. A fellow paddler kindly gave me some paper so I could conduct interviews and bring this blog item to you. The five ELLs were from Digital Harbor High School and were taking part in a kayaking and camping trip down the the Patuxent River organized by a local environmental group, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, that my husband and I also participated in. For the teens from Morocco, Mexico, Vietnam, and ...


I haven't been so influenced by my workaholic peers inside the Beltway that I can't take a vacation. I'll be on break for two weeks, starting June 8, so don't look for any new entries on this blog until the week of June 25. Vacation for me means taking a break from technology--computers and telephones--as well as from reporting. I'll do that on a 5-day paddling and camping trip down the Patuxent River in Maryland....


Some of you have e-mailed me to say that the first time you ever posted a comment on a blog was on Learning the Language. Thank you for trying something new, so that other readers and I could learn from what you have to say. Here's something else to try--Webcasts about research on English-language learners co-sponsored by CREATE and SchoolsMovingUp, an initiative of WestEd. (CREATE stands for the Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners.) On June 14 at noon, Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, will review ...


Twenty-one of the 41 valedictorians of Boston high schools this school year were born outside of the United States, according to a June 3 article in the Boston Globe. The newspaper has posted a gallery with a photo and short quote from each valedictorian online. Among them is Nagina Khudaynazar, the valedictorian of City on a Hill Charter High School in Boston, who was born in Afghanistan, fled a civil war, and moved to the United States six years ago. "It was really hard for us to start a new life in America, especially not knowing English," she says in ...


A report released yesterday by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center shows that the test scores of English-language learners will have to be improved A WHOLE LOT, if that group of students is to meet federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind Act. Richard Fry, a senior research associate for the center, who authored the report, notes that while he examined test scores from the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, rather than those from the various state standardized tests used for accountability under NCLB, the scores on the nationwide test give a good indication of where ELLs stand. In ...


Through a notice in today's Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Education is seeking recommendations on how to develop a framework states can use to evaluate the quality of their standards and tests for English-language proficiency. The deadline for submitting recommendations is Aug. 1. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, states were required to create standards for English-language development for students who were new to the language and to come up with assessments to gauge their progress in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. English-language learners in K-12 must be tested each year in their progress in English. Last ...


For the 25th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe--which obligated public schools to enroll children regardless of their immigration status--I spent three days last month reporting in Tyler, Texas, where the case originated. The ruling was issued on June 15, 1982. I relished the opportunity to step back in history and interview residents of Tyler about their memories of the case. I talked with four residents who are natives of Mexico and, as undocumented children, were some of the plaintiffs. I also spoke with James Plyler, the former superintendent of Tyler schools, whose ...


This weekend, I lingered over a story by Tara Bahrampour in Sunday's Washington Post about the relationship between Ameer Abdalameer, an English-language learner from Iraq, and his English-as-a-second-language teacher, Felix Herrera, at Wakefield High School in Arlington County, Va., schools. "Lessons in Shared Scars of War" tells how 14-year-old Ameer left his home in Iraq because of war and how Mr. Herrera served in the Iraq war as an Army reservist. The nuances in the story--how Ameer makes verbal jabs in Mr. Herrera's presence that show the pain the boy has experienced in the war, and Mr. Herrera's reassurances that ...


Isabel Allende, David Ho, Eduardo Najera, and Orlando Patterson are immigrants whose stories are available free on DVD through the Merage Foundation for the American Dream in Newport Beach, Calif. Paul and Lilly Merage--immigrants from Iran--set up the foundation three years ago to inspire young immigrants to do well and to inform Americans about the contributions of immigrants, according to the foundation's Web site. The DVD series is accompanied by teachers' guides. The foundation is also giving awards this month to honor four other immigrants for their contributions. They are: Shirley Tilghman, the president of Princeton University; Jerry Yang, the ...


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