Ed Week reports that the cost of providing appropriate language services for English learners in many of Iowa's schools is rising. "According to an analysis by the newspaper, 82 districts last year needed extra money, up from 68 districts five years ago. Districts collected $11.8 million in property taxes in fiscal 2011 for English Language Learner programs. That compares to $6.1 million five years ago." Then comes the inevitable comparison of reading scores across different cohorts of kids that is somehow yoked to the increase in spending. "The percentage of Davenport ELL fourth-graders able to read at grade level fell from 71 percent in 2007 to about 62 percent in 2011. Reading proficiency among Des Moines' ELL fourth-graders increased from 45 percent to 51 percent."
From the Huffington Post: "The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed a ruling that barred a woman from running for a city council seat because she doesn't speak English proficiently". Not much more to say, except that Cabrera's lawyers are looking at the possibility of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Interesting piece by a teacher in EdWeek describing how having students translate conceptual vocabulary and content-area ideas is key to building their English language understanding.
From Reuters: After a Yuma County Superior Court judge concluded that Alejandrina Cabrera's English was sufficiently limited that she should be excluded from running for City Council in Yuma, AZ. "Cabrera's lawyers have appealed the decision, made in response to a lawsuit by the town's mayor, and the Arizona Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case on Monday -- in time for the city to print ballots the next morning."
The Huffington Post reports that oral arguments in AZ vs. US have been set for April. Per the story: "The case, Arizona vs. United States, tests states' abilities to pass their own immigration measures in an area of the law typically reserved for the federal government. The state of Arizona is seeking to reverse a ruling by U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit."
From the New York Times: In a crackdown on documentation status, Pomona College required many of its employees "to show proof of legal residency, saying that an internal review had turned up problems in their files.
Seventeen workers could not produce documents showing that they were legally able to work in the United States. So on Dec. 2, they lost their jobs." Apparently this has set off a debate at the school about what it means to be a liberal arts institution.
Making English official
The House of Representatives is close to passing a bill to make English the official language in the United States, The Hill reports. This is seen as a great wedge issue in a presidential year and you can bet that Romney will jump on its coattails just like he did back in 2002 in Massachusetts when the English-only instruction ballot initiative was put before state voters. Meantime, the Huffington Post reports on how ludicrous the El Paso mayor thinks such a proposition is, and cites examples of politicians worrying over the limited Spanish proficiency of candidates who purport to represent highly bilingual constituencies.