Once again, there's a bill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that would enable graduates of U.S. schools who are undocumented immigrants--and who meet certain criteria--to get in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities in their states. Organizations that are advocating for passage of the bill, such as the National Council of La Raza, say that about 65,000 youths who are undocumented are granted high school diplomas in this country each year. The bill also would give undocumented youths who meet certain criteria a path to legalization, so that if they earn a college education, they have ...


The Ogden City School District in Ogden, Utah, has put in place a policy that I've found to be rare in school districts. For at least six years, the school district has been requiring all of its new teachers to get an endorsement to teach English as a second language within the first three years of employment. I learned about this policy from my colleague Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, who just visited the Ogden City district to write about how it implements its federal Reading First grant. Rich Moore, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the district, told me ...


Soon, some educators and members of advocacy groups may get a chance to tell members of the U.S. Congress how they think requirements for English-language learners in the No Child Left Behind Act should--or should not--be changed in the law, which is up for reauthorization this year. Badar Tareen, the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, a Democrat from Michigan, told me in a phone interview this morning that the House subcommittee on early childhood elementary and secondary education plans to hold a hearing on English-language learners and NCLB this month. The hearing is tentatively set ...


Kathleen Leos, the director of the U.S. Department of Education's office of English-language acquisition, hasn't shied away from talking in public forums about English-language learners and the No Child Left Behind Act. I heard her speak here in Washington this week on a panel about the education of Latinos sponsored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens. She said that because of the requirements in NCLB, "every single state has language standards for the first time" for English-language learners, and those English-language-development standards also have to align with states' ...


An "issue brief" from the Alliance for Excellent Education summarizes research results about how teenage English-language learners need some of the same kinds of instruction, along with some different kinds of instruction in reading, than their native-English-speaking peers. Both ELLs and native-English speakers who struggle with reading, for example, tend to benefit from intensive, explicit teaching in reading-comprehension strategies and in learning new vocabulary, the issue brief says. But ELLs are different from their native-English-speaking peers in that their lack of background knowledge may be a huge barrier for understanding what they read. If a student doesn't know much about ...


Fernanda Santos writes in an article appearing today in The New York Times about how classes for immigrants to learn English have long waiting lists. She's talking about classes for immigrants who are adults. Those of you out there who work in this field know that all immigrant children, whether documented or undocumented, are entitled by federal law to a free K-12 education in this country. But if immigrants are too old to attend high school, they are on their own to find whatever English classes might be offered by houses of worship, colleges, immigrant advocacy groups, or other institutions ...


I've taken note over the years of the odd phenomenon that some children who are Native Americans and speak only English are identified as English-language learners. This is how it happens. Schools are required by federal law to give parents a home-language survey when they enroll their children in school. In Indian Country, parents are likely to say on the survey that an indigenous language is spoken at home, even though it may be spoken only by a grandmother, or hardly spoken by anyone. But if they do answer the home-language survey in that way, schools are required to test ...


An article in today's Washington Post saying that Fairfax County schools stand to lose $17 million if they don't comply with a federal mandate to change how they test English-language learners prompted me to get an update on the testing showdown between Virginia education officials and the federal government. Charles Pyle, the director of communications for the Virginia Department of Education, told me that Virginia has decided to "move on" and carry out the federal government's mandate that school districts stop using an English-language proficiency test, instead of the state's regular reading test, for beginning English-language learners to comply with ...


I write in this week's edition of Education Week about how some people are still talking about Herman Badillo's book, One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups, though it was published at the end of last year. In the book Mr. Badillo, who was the nation's first Puerto Rico-born U.S. Representative, admonishes Hispanics for not placing enough importance on education and urges them to look to the example of people of Asian heritage for guidance. Mr. Badillo delivered the same message to a room full of people with cloth napkins ...


I've visited some classrooms in which teenagers who were English-language learners and read at a 1st grade level were reading from books for little kids because apparently the teacher couldn't find more suitable materials. So I was happy to learn recently that Margarita Calderón had written materials for adolescent ELLs who are just starting to read. She told me last week that she's found a publisher for those materials, Benchmark Education Company. Schools across the country receive a sizeable number of immigrant teenagers each year who didn't learn how to read in their home countries. Sometimes they dropped out of ...


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