These days, if you pay attention to issues affecting English-language learners, it's hard to overlook what used to be a little known fact about them--that most are not immigrants but rather were born in the United States. Peter Zamora, the Washington counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, included this fact in his recent testimony on English-language learners and reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee. (For more on Mr. Zamora's views about English-language learners, see my profile of him in this ...


This bit of news has received so much comment by bloggers that I need not add any more. I merely note that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich apparently equated bilingual education with the "language of living in a ghetto." He also reportedly said in a March 31 speech he made to the National Federation of Republican Women that "allowing bilingualism to continue to grow is very dangerous." The March 31 Associated Press article about the speech is here. Here's the Tennessee Guerilla Women's response. Likewise, "la bloguera" of the Adventures of the Coconut Caucus disagrees. For someone who agrees with ...


I'm not sure exactly when it was released, but the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota has posted a "new" study on its Web site about how language-minority children spend their time before and after school and what difference it makes in how well they do in school. Language-minority children are those who come from homes where a language other than English is spoken; the researchers surveyed parents who spoke only English or Spanish. They surveyed parents or guardians of 9,583 children who participated in the 2001 administration of the National Household Education Survey Program ...


Some of you might remember that about this time last year, Arizona had racked up nearly $21 million in federal fines because the state's Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, couldn't agree on how to meet a federal court order in the case of Flores v. Arizona to pay adequately for the education of English-language learners. The stalemate finally was broken when Gov. Napolitano permitted to become law--without her signature--a measure approved by the legislature last spring to address the problem. But U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins then rejected the law, saying it didn't bear a "rational...


A couple of booths in the exhibitors' hall for the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. conference last week caught my fancy and displayed products that I think might interest teachers of English-language learners. At one booth, Shane Dixon, of Provo, Utah, was strumming a white guitar and singing songs with lyrics in the style of James Taylor (who was popular when Baby Boomers were in high school). Mr. Dixon is a teacher of English as a second language and was promoting his "ESL tunes," which he sells on a CD, called "Grammar Rocks." I tried out ...


I believe some people in this country might have more empathy for English-language learners if they had studied a second language. In my case, at least, while trying to get a handle on the subjunctive mode and other difficult aspects of Spanish, I may have gained some insight into some of the challenges that English-learners face. Even after many years of study, I shudder to think of all the mistakes I make when speaking Spanish. So I thought it was noteworthy when I learned this week that the U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings recently tried her hand at ...


I called Deb Sigman, the assessment director for the California Department of Education, recently to find out more about the Spanish-language test that the state is launching for some English-language learners. You can read more about that in this week's issue of Education Week. During the same conversation I thought to ask whether California ever developed a test in reading and writing for English-learners in kindergarten and 1st grade to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. It turns out that California has not done so--and, as a result, is receiving federal funds for English-language learners under Title III ...


Those of us who weren't able to attend the March 23 U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on English-language learners and reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act can read testimonies and listen to the hearing by Webcast through the Web site of the House Committee on Education and Labor. I'm catching up this week on what happened, along with all of you--I didn't attend the hearing because I was covering the annual conference of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. in Seattle. While what goes on inside the policymaking rooms of Congress is important, ...


Virginia's U.S. senators, John Warner, a Republican, and Jim Webb, a Democrat, introduced a bill on March 21 that would apply to school districts that have run into problems with the U.S. Department of Education regarding how they test English-language learners. If enacted, the bill would permit the school districts to continue with the way they now test such students for the current school year. Sen. Warner testified that the "impasse" between the federal government and Virginia school districts over how to include English-language learners in testing under the No Child Left Behind Act "could result in a ...


Katherine Leal Unmuth, of the Dallas Morning News, tells how a school board member in the Irving Independent School District in Texas pitched the idea of starting classes in English immersion and was told by the district's superintendent that it's against the law. Texas requires bilingual education. (Click here to read Ms. Unmuth's article.) This isn't the first time that educators or education leaders in Texas have suggested that the state should offer school districts more flexibility in how they teach English-language learners. I wrote about discussions on this issue held by the Texas Board of Education last school year. ...


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