Monday, December 17, 2007

"Que Ningún Niño Se Queda Atrás:" Take That, NY Times

Catching up on some weekend reading, I came across the NY Times Article, "No Child Left Behind? Say It in Spanish." I followed their advice with the title of this post.

The article explains how the schools in NYC's suburbs are coping with the large influx of Hispanic immigrants that have recently settled in the area. In recent years, the 19 suburban counties closest to NYC have experienced a 17% growth in the Hispanic population under age 15, forcing schools to re-evaluate their ESL and Hispanic outreach programs.

Randolph, NJ was chosen as a example of one suburban district that is learning to cater to the needs of Spanish-speaking families. After noticing a drop in the test scores of an elementary school with a high number of recent immigrant students, the district initiated a multi-pronged plan to improve the academic performance of its ELL students. This included reducing class sizes, hiring a reading specialist and a full-time social worker, and initiating a "Noche Latina" outreach event for Spanish-speaking parents.

So far, test scores seem to be rising, but the ultimate result remains to be seen.

Amazingly enough, there hasn't been political backlash against these new expenditures, despite the fact that other schools in the district have seen budget cuts. Randolph's superintendent said the following: “...[I]t costs more to educate some kids, and it’s going to cost more to educate immigrants,” Mr. Riley said. “Once you accept that, everything falls into place.”

In this case, the new programs seem like a thoughtful, reasonable investment. We'll see what other districts follow their lead and how they work to find cost-effective ways to educate their ELL students.

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