Volume 10 No 2 Spring 2014
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Around the Nation: ESL in the News




Indiana First State to Withdraw from Common Core

Indiana became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core math and reading standards. In signing legislation in March to pull Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence said he believes the state's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level.

"I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people," Pence said.
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States that Ditch Common Core Could Lose NCLB Waivers

Indiana, which recently became the first state to ditch the Common Core Standards, has landed itself in hot waiver water with the U.S. Department of Education. While the Hoosier State hasn't officially been placed on "high risk" status—the dubious distinction that proceeded the revocation of Washington state's waiver—its flexibility is definitely on thin ice with the feds.The Education Department sent a letter to Indiana May 1 explaining that conditions have now been placed on its waiver.

States didn't have to adopt the common core in order to get a federal waiver from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act. Instead, they simply have to adopt standards that will get students ready for college or the workforce.
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"Obamacore" Creating Wedge among Republicans

The health care law may be Republicans' favorite weapon against Democrats this year, but there is another issue roiling their party and shaping the establishment-versus-grass-roots divide ahead of the 2016 presidential primaries: the Common Core.

When introduced the set of national educational standards had the overwhelming support of Republican governors. Now, the Common Core has incited intense resistance on the right and prompted some in the party to reverse field and join colleagues who believe it will lead to a federal takeover of schools.

Its most outspoken Republican defender, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, is also the most talked-about potential presidential candidate among mainstream party leaders and donors. Mr. Bush has called out some Republicans who have switched positions, drawing what will be a dividing line in the campaign if he or other defenders of the Common Core choose to run. He is joined by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, but theirs is becoming a small club.
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The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards?
Okay, How about The Tarheel State Standards?


In the face of growing opposition to the Common Core, officials in a handful of states are worried that the brand is already tainted. They’re keeping the standards but slapping on fresh names they hope will have greater public appeal and impart a local flavor.

Opponents of the standards range from tea party activists to progressives who bristle at the emphasis on testing and the fact that the Gates Foundation funds and promotes them.

Now, with new names, the idea that the standards are “common” might not be apparent.
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Ten Astounding Statements about the Common Core

Opponents of the CCCSS express their views in no uncertain terms.
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Education Secretary Arne Duncan: English Learners an Asset for Global, Multilingual Future

Duncan states: "In our country, we have a valuable yet untapped resource within the estimated 4.6 million students learning English - the fastest-growing student population in our schools. These students come to school already speaking a variety of home languages. These languages are significant not only to our economic competitiveness but also to our nation's security. The heritage languages our English learners bring to school are major assets to preserve and value."
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White House Announces New Teacher Program Regulations Will be Out Soon

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said too many teachers say they weren’t well prepared for teaching. “Our nation’s children pay the price,” he said. The proposed regulations will ask states to rate their teacher training programs, use better data and make the results publicly available, the Obama administration said in a news release.
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Poll Focuses On Views From A Wide Array Of Latino Americans

There is a lot of talk about "the Latino voter" or the way companies are trying to win over "the Latino consumer."

It's a cliché to point out that Latinos, like every other ethnic group, are not monolithic. That caveat is underscored by a new major poll of nearly 1,500 Latino Americans by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The poll covered several aspects of people's lives — religious beliefs, personal finances, health status, education and more. The respondents are broken out into a few key groups by ethnic ancestry: Cubans, Dominicans, South Americans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. Pollsters were also able to contrast responses from folks who were immigrants with those who were born in the United States.
View poll results


New MOOC for English-Teaching Professionals

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has launched a pilot Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) prepared by and for English-teaching professionals.

The course, "Shaping the Way We Teach English," targets educators looking to pursue English instruction as a career as well as those already in the field who may wish to refresh their teaching methods and approaches.

It offers a unique, multimedia-rich collaborative environment where participants can interact with top-ranked English-language educators from all over the world. Participants will have access to a varity of asynchronous materials and methods and interactive discussion forums.
More information


Opinion . . .
MOOCs as Neocolonialism: Who Controls Knowledge?

Philip G. Altbach, research professor and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, observes that the large majority of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are created and taught by professors in the United States and, for the most part, MOOC content is based on the American academic experience and pedagogical ideas. He contends that this hegemony may inhibit the emergence of a local academic culture, local academic content, and courses tailored specially for national audiences, perhaps making it more difficult for alternative voices to be heard.
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Stanford ‘Habla’ Program Teaches English Skills to Adult Workers on Campus

A year ago, Hugo Mendoza wasn’t able to speak a single word in English. He would smile with embarrassment every time someone would greet him in English, for he did not know how to respond to a greeting. More than once, Hugo had to leave a store without buying what he needed, because there weren’t any Spanish speakers around that could help him. However, his life has been transformed since he joined “Habla.

“Habla” is a Stanford student-run organization whose mission is to empower adult workers on campus through English-language literacy and conversational skills. In addition to tutoring, “Habla” seeks to connect the student and the janitorial communities at Stanford. The one-on-one tutoring sessions are held twice a week. Hugo attends “Habla la Noche,” a session specifically designed for those working the night shift.
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