Is it censorship?
According the CBS New York, the NYC Department of Education is considering a list of about 50 words that would be banned from city-wide educational materials used with children (assessments, curricula, etc), for fear that their use could make children feel bad or uncomfortable. "The word dinosaur made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. Halloween is targeted because it suggests paganism; a birthday might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses."
Strong op-ed from an Associate Professor from Trinity College in the Hartford Courant today about how schools discourage and disparage the use of Spanish in schools. From the article: "But it is not only state and federal policy that is to blame. The move toward English-only in schools in Hartford and across the country has its roots in poisonous views of Spanish speakers and other racially marginalized immigrants as linguistically and culturally deficient, and in the irrational fear that the presence of linguistically diverse populations within our borders threatens the primacy of English."
From AZCentral: "Hundreds of mostly college and high school students marched in downtown Phoenix on Friday afternoon in protest of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his continued crackdown on illegal immigrants. It was the second time in three days that young people have staged a protest of the Maricopa County sheriff -- in the first instance, the event was staged by Dream Activist, an online organization that's encouraging young undocumented immigrants to 'come out of the shadows' by getting arrested."
Dual-language programs on the rise
Nice article from EdWeek that gives some nice overviews of how different states are implementing dual-language immersion programs for ELL and native English speaking students. Though we wouldn't know it here in Massachusetts, 2-way programs are on the rise in the U.S. The article also gives some nice press to the Seal of Biliteracy program. Good read.
EdWeek: Apparently the Colorado legislature is considering "a bill aimed at making sure all kids can read by fourth grade. The measure was divisive because it includes new statewide recommendations on which children should flunk their grade because they're too far behind on reading. By third grade, students far behind on reading could not go to fourth grade without a superintendent's intervention."
From EdWeek: "A bill seeking to become Hawaii's version of the federal Dream Act would offer the state's high school graduates who don't have legal immigration status to get resident tuition at the University of Hawaii and be eligible for state-funded financial aid." Officials estimate that approximately 1300 students in Hawaii could potentially benefit from the legislation.
Bilingualism and intelligence?
The old debate got resuscitated a bit on Sunday in the New York Times. The scientific evidence around the cognitive benefits of bilingualism are mounting. Why then is bilingual education such a taboo subject in American education? Seems like Obama and Duncan should make bilingualism one of the requirements for the Race to the Top competition.
Politicalwire notes that Santorum's visit to Puerto Rico backfired in building up support for the candidate on the island due to his less-than-thoughtful comments on it being necessary that English be the main language of the U.S. territory for it to be considered for statehood. Indeed, one former supporter, Oreste Ramos, was so upse
Rick Santorum backtracked on his remarks on English needing to be the main language of Puerto Rico if it ever hoped to become the 51st state in the Union. From the Huffington Post: "'I never said only English should be spoken here. Never did I even intimate that,' Santorum told local reporters gathered in El Capitolio, the island's Capitol building. 'What I said was that English had to be spoken as well as other – obviously Spanish is going to be spoken, this would be a bilingual country.' He goes on to argue that English is key to developing Puerto Rico's economy. I wonder if he thinks that for Argentina, Spain, and other Spanish speaking countries.
From CNN: "Rick Santorum on Wednesday laid out one caveat he would hold for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico before it obtained statehood, saying the island would need to make English its principal language before it becomes a state." On an island where 95% of residents speak Spanish in the home, Santorum would require that the government be run via a language with which 81% speak "less than very well." That is not good language policy.