[Speakers of] Foreign [languages] swamp schools

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed Jun 22 14:59:34 UTC 2005

>>From the Washington Times,



Foreign speakers swamp schools
By George Archibald

Published June 19, 2005

School enrollment growth of immigrant non-English speaking students in 18
states through mid-America has surpassed 200 percent since 1990.
Teachers and administrators in those states have faced a surprising
demographic reality as enrollment of students who don't speak English,
mostly Hispanic, has grown more than 10 times faster than the overall rise
in school enrollment in the past 15 years, according to a biennial report
to Congress by the Education Department.

    The fast-growing number of students who don't speak English -- now an
estimated 9 million and increasing by almost 1 million a year -- is
forcing a sea change in language development in schools and the way
teachers help children achieve required reading and math proficiency in
each grade under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), education leaders
say.  "They do have to learn English," Donna Christian, president of the
federally funded nonprofit Center for Applied Linguistics, said of
schoolchildren from immigrant families.

    "We must share a common language. It is important for all children to
learn English to a high degree so they can be successful. But that does
not exclude the possibility of them developing their native language while
learning English," Mrs. Christian said.  It is similarly important for
English-speaking teachers and students "to become bilingual" in our
increasingly diverse schools, with a total of 440 different languages
being spoken nationally, she said.

    Booming migration of families that do not speak English is now
happening in less-populated states as well, mostly where there are migrant
jobs and the economy is prospering: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho,
Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Virginia,
Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.  According to the Education
Department, local school districts spent an average $110 in federal Title
III funds per student last year to teach English to foreign language
students. The amount was as high as $288 per student in Jackson, Miss.

    While the growing language problem has placed increased pressure on
schools and districts to have enough children pass required reading and
math tests under the NCLB, most still achieved adequate yearly progress,
department officials said.  Florida, with 292,000 English language
learners, or 13 percent of total enrollment, did not have a single school
district targeted for needing improvement because it failed to meet
adequate yearly progress two years in a row.

    In California, students who do not speak English are now more than
one-fourth of the state's 6.4-million school population; in Texas, Nevada
and New Mexico, almost one-fifth; and more than 10 percent of students in
six other states, according to the Education Department's 503-page report.
It is not known how many students are children of illegal alien parents
because, under federal privacy laws, state officials and federal census
surveys are not permitted to ask about the legal status of aliens,
officials said.

    Vietnamese ranks third nationally behind English and Spanish, with
other languages ranking high in some states: Serbo-Croatian in Iowa,
Kentucky, Missouri and Vermont; Chinese in New York; Portuguese in
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island; Russian in
Oregon, South Carolina and Washington; Arabic in Michigan, Ohio and West
Virginia; Korean in Maryland and Virginia; Blackfoot in Montana; Navajo in

Copyright  2005 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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