Reading, ‘riting and English immersion

After years of bilingual education, most Latino third graders in New Britain, Connecticut schools haven’t learned to read, reports John Tulenko in The Language War in New Britain on PBS tonight. Kelt Cooper, the district’s new superintendent, is switching to English immersion. “While initial results seem promising, opponents say students are being shortchanged,” reports Learning Matters.

Here’s the district’s explanation of the new English Language Development program.

Study: Teachers go soft on minority students’ work

After reading a poorly written essay, teachers offered comments and advice. Those who thought the writer was black or Latino provided more praise and less criticism, according to a Rutgers study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology (JEP), reports Science Daily.

(The study) involved 113 white middle school and high school teachers in two public school districts located in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, one middle class and white, and the other more working class and racially mixed.

“Many minority students might not be getting input from instructors that stimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement,” said Kent Harber, Rutgers-Newark psychology professor.

George W. Bush called it “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Graduation + transfer = new success rate

Community college success rates will rise, under a new definition that includes transfer students who go on to a four-year institution before earning an associate degree.

Nearly 80 percent of male black and Latino college students in California enroll in community college. Six years later, 80 percent have failed to complete a certificate or degree or transfer to a university. Women do somewhat better.

Libertad de la educacion

Libertad de la Educacion, a new Lexington Institute report, looks at “School Choice Solutions for Closing the Latino Achievement Gap.” Latino children are excelling in charter schools in Chicago and voucher schools in Milwaukee,   the report finds.

Lexington also recommends using virtual educational technology to revolutionize online and hybrid classrooms and providing scholarships for special-needs children.

Patricia Gándara of UCLA takes a different approach in The Latino Education Crisis: Rescuing the American Dream. Latinos have made almost no progress in college completion rates during the last three decades, Gándara writes.

Community college is Latinos' first step

Enior Jiminez left high school at 16 to marry his pregnant girlfriend. In a few weeks, he’ll complete a community college degree in neuroscience. His next step is Columbia University, then medical school. Read all about it in Community College Spotlight.

Latino toddlers lag in cognitive growth

Low-income Mexican-American babies are just as healthy as white babies, a Berkeley study finds. But Latino toddlers fall behind in language and cognitive skills by the age of two or three.

Basic cognition proficiencies for infants at 9 to 15 months of age – such as comprehending their mother’s speech and beginning to use their own words and gestures -were found to be statistically equal between Latino and white children, said Fuller. But by 24- to 36-months of age, Mexican-American toddlers lag their white counterparts by up to a half-year in terms of word comprehension, speaking with varying complexity and working with their mothers on simple learning tasks as assessed in English or Spanish, the researchers found.

The Latino mothers had much less education than the white mothers in the study.

. . . “The great majority of young Latino children benefit from two warm and caring parents at home,” (Education Professor Bruce) Fuller said. “But the reading activities, educational games, and performing the ABCs for Grandma, so often witnessed in middle-class homes, are less consistently seen in poor Latino households.”

I’d love to see a Sesame Street-type show aimed at mothers and aired in both Spanish and English. Parents who haven’t grown up with books and learning games need models.

Order, discipline, success

Illinois is giving $98 million to open more UNO K-8 charter schools in Chicago, reports Education Week in Nurturing ‘School Minds’. United Neighborhood Organization, or UNO, a Latino advocacy group, runs eight charter schools — seven in Chicago, one in New Orleans — educating primarily low-income students.

Juan Rangel, the chief executive officer of the organization, preaches the value of a disciplined school climate. He came to appreciate the strong discipline of his traditional Mexican-American family and the Roman Catholic high school he attended in Chicago.

UNO leadership imparts that philosophy to students and staff, along with other goals it sets for the schools, from the top down.

The schools, which cater largely to Latino students, are expected to “assimilate” their populations into American society. In part, they do so by using an English-immersion approach rather than bilingual education for English-language learners.

UNO’s goal is 1½ years’ growth for every year a student is enrolled. Students consistently outscore Chicago public school students, and do much better than other Latinos and English Language Learners, concludes a study by the Illinois Policy Institute and the Lexington Institute.

Administrators at UNO headquarters handle the budgeting and manage the buildings so the directors—principals—are free to focus on academics. The curriculum is the same across the network, as is testing. For the past two school years, all network schools have been assessing students three times a year with benchmark tests to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses; teachers receive training on how to use the test data to improve instruction.

Staffers help graduating eighth graders get into good high schools so they can continue preparing for college.

Laying blame

Teachers aren’t “culturally responsive” to Latino students, said the professional development consultant, who told Mr. McNamar of the Daily Grind and his colleagues they’d blamed students or their parents for Latino students’ “struggle to graduate from high school in four years.”

Later, one of Mr. McNamar’s classes discussed reasons why they struggle with school. The students, all Latino, concluded:

* Puerto Rican kids don’t care
* Parents don’t punish us
* Parents didn’t graduate
* Too many teenage moms raising them
* Latinos are not smart
* Latinos don’t care about education
* In Puerto Rico we just skip school all day
* We have trouble with the language
* The Puerto Rican teachers here can’t teach good
* Teachers don’t help Latino students and the White kids don’t need help

The students are culturally insensitive too!