Volume 10 No 1 Fall 2013
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Around the Nation: ESL in the News

New Activists Continue Fast for Immigration Reform

Immigration rights activists on the National Mall broke their fast in early December but were replaced by new fasters who are trying to push House Republican leaders to schedule a vote on immigration reform.

The fast has drawn national attention in part by attracting such high-profile visitors as President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Numerous religious leaders and politicians have shown their support by joining the fasters for brief periods.

So far, however, the fasters have yet to influence Republican House leaders to schedule a vote on immigration reform. The Senate passed a comprehensive, bipartisan bill in June, but Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he will not bring it to a vote in the House
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House Dismantles NCLB

"Let's get Washington out of the way to ensure a brighter future for our children," said Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala, as the House voted to let states and local school districts, rather than Washington, set the rules for ensuring that kids are getting good educations.

The legislation would eliminate federally required testing of students, which has been controversial from the start. But the measure passed with no Democratic support and drew a veto threat from the Obama administration, which said it would be a "step backward" in efforts to better prepare children for colleges and careers and to bring improvements to low-performing schools.

Some Republicans have long contended that Washington should have no role in setting education policy and that the Education Department should be abolished. The House bill would eliminate No Child Left Behind's adequate yearly progress metric and get rid of other federal mandates required of poor-performing schools, giving states and school districts the authority to develop their own strategies for improving student and school performances.
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"America's families, students and teachers deserve an education law that advances progress for all students. The bill that the House passed today is not that law."

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's statement above reflects his dissatisfaction with the recent re-write by the US House of Representatives of the No Child Left Behind law.

Citing reasons he believes enacting the House version of the law would be a huge step backward for education, he continues: "I and other senior advisors to the President would recommend that he veto H.R. 5 if it were presented to him."
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How Does the NCLB Rewrite Affect ELLs?
A large coalition of education and advocacy organizations are urging members of Congress to reject a Republican-written overhaul of the Elementary Secondary and Education Act on the grounds that English-language learners and Hispanic students would be irreparably harmed by its passage.

The Hispanic Education Coalition, which brings together 20 civil rights and education advocacy groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens, sent a letter to all members of the House warning that a vote for the Student Success Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Minnesota Republican, would allow states to return to the past and "ignore the educational disparities of racial and ethnic minorities, ELLs, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities."
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Biliteracy Would Get Federal Boost in Proposed Legislation

States seeking to grant special recognition to their multilingual high school graduates would get a big boost from the federal government under new legislation introduced by a California congresswoman.

U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, a Democrat, introduced the Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act late last month, a measure that would create grants in the U.S. Department of Education to help states that want to establish "seal of biliteracy" programs that support and recognize students who demonstrate proficiency in English and at least one other language.
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Obama Lays Out National Internet Access Plan

A half-dozen eighth-graders at Mooresville, NC, Middle School showed President Barack Obama how they use their "smart" whiteboards by marking up a poem read at his first inauguration. Circling a metaphor on the board automatically updated an iPad Mini in a classmate's hand. Then Obama told the country he wants every school in the U.S. to have access to the same level of technology.

From the gymnasium of a school that has garnered national attention for its tech savvy, Obama unveiled Thursday a plan to connect nearly every U.S. classroom to high-speed broadband and wireless Internet over the next five years
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Radio Helps Latinos, Schools Stay Tuned in to Each Other

by Jeremy P. Meyer

Denver Public Schools is reaching out to an increasingly diverse student population through one of the most popular media for Spanish-speakers: radio.

The district says it is the first in the nation to produce a commercial Spanish-language radio show to engage parents. About 40 percent of the district's 79,000 students come from homes where English is not the primary language, and many of those students have parents who speak no English at all. But they do turn on the radio regularly.

Spanish-language stations attract a high listenership in the Denver-Boulder area, and DPS is riding their popularity to convey information about the district.

"When you have parents who work at a restaurant, hotel or construction site, they tune into the radio and it's on all the time," said Alex Sanchez, director of DPS's multicultural outreach office. Sanchez is the host of "Educa," a one-hour program produced by DPS that features information about the district's initiatives, events and issues.

"We can't underestimate the reach of radio, especially in the Latino community," said Marco Nuñez, community organizer with the Padres y Jovenes Unidos advocacy group that was featured in the recent DPS show about discipline policies.
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