EDU ELL: A DREAM Deferred?
What lies ahead for undocumented students.
On December 18, a senate filibuster led to the death of the dream Act, which would have provided undocumented students brought to this country by their parents a path to legal status. While the vote largely fell along expected party lines, education leaders made a last-minute push for the bill, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
President Obama has said he will not give up on the dream Act, but the measure is not expected to gain traction in the Republican-controlled House. So what does this mean for undocumented students in your district?
While immigration has traditionally been a taboo topic in the classroom—federal law prohibits educators from asking students about their immigration status—a new report from Kids in Need of Defense and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth encourages officials who become aware of an undocumented student to discuss the options available to him or her, as some routes to legal citizenship close at age 18. The report recommends connecting children who disclose their undocumented status with an immigration attorney, some of whom work on a pro bono basis, while remaining conscious of the still-sensitive nature of these issues.
ELL News Roundup
High Schoolers Teach Foreign Language in Georgia
Georgia's Gainesville school district has initiated a new effort with its foreign language offerings at the elementary level—high school students are currently teaching courses in French, Chinese, and more. The experiment began when a handful of native French students enrolled in the Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, and officials added French to the roster to help the children hang onto their language of origin. "Usually we would approach college students," Superintendent Merrianne Dyer told the Gainesville Times. But budget concerns required some creativity. So far the program has been a success, and the district soon plans to have high school students teach P.E. as well.
Ethnic Studies End in Arizona
It is officially against Arizona state law to teach ethnic studies courses that are targeted to, that promote solidarity among, or that foster resentment toward a particular ethnic group. What that means exactly is a matter of some debate, as some Tucson schools have contended that ethnic studies courses open to any student do not violate the new law. The state superintendent of public instruction, Tom Horne, disagrees and has said he will fine districts 10 percent of their total funds if they continue to offer the courses. In October, 10 area Tucson teachers and the director of the district's Mexican American Studies Department filed a lawsuit challenging the law, but that matter has yet to be resolved.
High Mobility Linked to Increased Need for ELL Courses
According to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "highly mobile" schools, designated as schools where more than 10 percent of K-8 students leave by the end of the year, face considerable challenges, including higher rates of poverty, homelessness, and students in need of special education and ESL services. The study found 11.5 percent of U.S. schools are highly mobile. This news comes as no surprise to administrators already working in highly mobile schools, but interviews conducted by the researchers suggest that mobility is becoming more widespread due to the current economic climate.