From EdWeek, the California schools chief has named Karen Cadiero-Kaplan to head a new state office that focuses on working with districts to improve instruction for English learning students. Here is the original press release. Compared to Massachusetts, California is light years ahead in effectively dealing with the linguistic realities of public education.
I just learned about this being implemented in some districts in California, where, on their diploma, students who are proficient in English and another language can earn an official seal of biliteracy. An inspiring idea - check out the website and a video that gives a short overview of the approach and effects of this very novel idea.
Arizona is one amazing place. Yesterday (see post below), in San Luis, Arizona, news broke of a scuffle between Cabrera the town's former mayor, Guillermina Fuentes who accused Cabrera of having insufficient English to be on the ballot to run for city council. The Huffington Post details just how political the story is, and how language becomes the lever for fueling political feuds. Rather depressing, but also amazing.
This time it's about how proficient city officials in the border town of San Luiz, AZ. The New York Times reports on the political spat between former friends, both Spanish-dominant bilinguals, one accusing the other of having insufficient English to participate in city governance. A Brigham Young University linguist apparently agreed with the charge.
From Taegan Goddard's PoliticalWire, "Fidel Castro lambasted the Republican presidential race as the greatest competition of "idiocy and ignorance" the world has ever seen." Given the unique political leanings of Florida's Cuban population, it is interesting to consider how Cuban-Americans consider the field as compared with the Cuban government establishment.
Support the Dream Act in Albany on Tuesday, February 28th. See the following link if you're interested in getting involved. Link to the Immigration Professors' Blog for information.
In a particularly painful discussion, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich went at it over a question about their language hypocrisy. From cnn.com: "One of the most interesting questions pertained to the potential hypocrisy of the candidates' choice to film campaign commercials and distribute fliers in Spanish despite their belief that English should be the nation's official language. 'I would have ballots in English, and I think you could have programs where virtually everybody would be able to read the ballots,' Gingrich said, and nearly all of his rivals agreed."
Romney went on to disparage children being taught "in the language of their birth", describing bilingual education as a failure and lauding the existing Structured English Immersion programs in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there were no follow-ups by the moderators on the spike in ELL dropout rates since the 2002 passage of SEI.
Click to sign a petition to save the ethnic studies programs in the Tuscon Unified School District!
Details are vague, but Good Education reports that "a $100 million investment fund, "University Ventures," which is backed by German media giant Bertlesmann and two Texas university systems, plans to address the higher education needs of English language learners by starting a bilingual college in California."
New America Media: The Spanish language media is looking to an infusion of English linguistic and cultural content to boost readership in California. Wouldn't it be cool, though, if the situation were reversed and the English-language U.S. media were needing to infuse Chinese, Spanish, and Korean language and culture to improve sales? Maybe that's not too far off...
Check out the Claves curriculum website
I am a professor in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College, and director of the Curriculum & Instruction doctoral program. I have served as an associate editor at Child Development, Applied Psycholinguistics, and an editor at Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. I was a bilingual teacher in Detroit, MI and have worked in district, state, and nonprofit settings. I work with bilingual learners from multilingual homes in K-8 settings, thinking about language use and development, cross-linguistic relations, instructional interventions, and teacher practice. I've published a bunch of articles and book chapters, and have developed language and reading curricula. I always work in close collaboration with teachers to facilitate the translation of research to practice.