Blog: Latino Ed Beat
Faced with the prospect of a civil rights lawsuit, the state of Arizona will no longer monitor the English fluency of ELL teachers and will now leave that monitoring to districts and charter schools. According to the Arizona Republic, a civil rights complaint filed last year claimed that teachers with accents were being reassigned.
Yesterday I had the chance to visit Chicago’s Erikson Institute, the nation’s only higher education center exclusively dedicated to early childhood education. Erikson won a federal i3 grant to expand its Early Math Project, which coaches early educators in strategies that help children progress in mathematical thinking.
About one in four American children are immigrants or were born to immigrant parents. By 2050, immigrant children–the fastest growing student population–are expected to make up one-third of the country’s under-18 population.
For those children, the majority of whom are Latino, learning English is key to academic achievement. But how well are English as Second Language programs–designed to help non-English speakers master academic English–working?
This week a few items crossed my desk and got me thinking about how improving the quality of early educators is likely to benefit both Latino preschoolers and those Latinos (mostly Latinas) entering early education as a career.
There’s been some good news on the Latino education front.
A new study from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that Latino college enrollment jumped by 24 percent — or nearly 350,000 students — from 2009 to 2010, outpacing black and Asian enrollment. For the first time, the study showed, Latino students on campus outnumbered black students.
The race is on among states competing for a slice of the $500 million federal dollars set aside to improve early childhood education systems. In August, the U.S. Department of Education released the application for its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a competition to reward states that align the many players involved in early childhood to improve data and program quality assessments and expand access to more high-risk children.
In these times of recession and job loss, factors such as hunger, poverty and homelessness can play as much of a role in school performance as teacher quality, education policy and curriculum standards.
In one San Diego neighborhood, white families are choosing to send their children to private school rather than to the neighborhood elementary school. Latino families from other neighborhoods, in contrast, are going out of their way to choose that school for their children.
The result? Self segregation.
What happens when the student population of a school shifts? What happens when the number of Latino students starts to pass the number of African-American students in a school that was once predominantly black?
New research from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences shows that bilingual babies stay open to different speech sounds for a longer period than monolingual babies and that the relative amount of each language babies are exposed to affects their vocabulary as toddlers. Not surprisingly, in a sample of English/Spanish bilingual babies, the more of one language they heard, the more of that language they spoke at 15 months.
For education reporters, it can be all too easy to limit our coverage to school board meetings, education policy and inside-the-classroom activities. After all, those areas alone can keep a beat reporter busy seven days a week.
But it’s important to remember that much of what affects student performance happens outside the school property. (As a teacher, I was made acutely aware of this whenever one of my students shared a piece of their home life with me. Many were grappling with divorce, death, illness, abuse–as well as regular teenage angst.)