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Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Heart of Latino Identity

Check this out. There's some really interesting stuff on Latino identity right now. Interesting how marketing and its need to connect with the consumer resulted in this study which observed over-arching aspects of Latino identity.

I quote from the article: “The Project identifies four "chambers" of Latino Identity: interpersonal orientation; time and space perception; spirituality; and gender perception -- each with its own qualities and characteristics. While intuitively Hispanic marketers have understood the characteristics of US Hispanics, the analysis indicated that it is the interconnectedness of all four chambers and the influence of contextual factors such as immigration stress, education, discrimination, ethnic pride and socioeconomic level on those chambers that is really shaping Latino identity today and influences the way marketers must "speak" to Latino consumers.”

This is interesting in light of the next post, Rich and varied 'Hispanic heritage' not easy to define.

Check out the presentation of this work at the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agenices. Read on.


Angela



http://hispanicad.com/cgi-bin/news/newsarticle.cgi?article_id=20226

The Heart of Latino Identity Presentation @ HipanicAd.com

The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies announced the findings of a year-long project assessing more than 40 years of academic research identifying the unique character of US Hispanics. During the opening session of the association's 21st semiannual conference in Miami, Chairman Carl Kravetz presented to an audience of US Hispanic advertising professionals from across the country a new model of Latino cultural identity anticipated to transform the way marketers and advertisers connect with Hispanic consumers.

What makes a Latino, Latino? Until now, the Spanish language has been the single most compelling definer of Latino Identity. The results of AHAAs Latino Identity Project, however, indicate that neither language nor acculturation is the true marker of Latino Identity. In fact, conventional factors such as acculturation, ethnic pride, language preference and socioeconomic levels that once defined Latinos are simply contextual, according to the project analysis.

"The new model is a significant shift from the way in which Latino consumers have been characterized to date - by language, country of origin and their length of time in the US - an overly simplistic view of Latino identity," says Carl Kravetz, chairman of AHAA and chairman/chief strategic officer of cruz/kravetz: IDEAS. "Our new model is not a rejection of the past but rather a natural and fascinating consequence of our growth, sophistication and evolution. This is not about a change of heart; instead this is about the change that is beating deep in the heart of the Latino population in America."

The heart is the symbol AHAA is using to describe the new Latino Cultural Identity. Its complexity, adaptability, intricacy and interrelation with other vital systems resemble the heart of Latino Cultural Identity -- values that change according to environment and external stimuli as does a human heart.

The Project identifies four "chambers" of Latino Identity: interpersonal orientation; time and space perception; spirituality; and gender perception -- each with its own qualities and characteristics. While intuitively Hispanic marketers have understood the characteristics of US Hispanics, the analysis indicated that it is the interconnectedness of all four chambers and the influence of contextual factors such as immigration stress, education, discrimination, ethnic pride and socioeconomic level on those chambers that is really shaping Latino identity today and influences the way marketers must "speak" to Latino consumers.

"It is complex," Kravetz says, "but not complicated. It is fluid, dynamic and ever changing. Interestingly, it turns out that it's not so much what unites Latinos that's important, rather, it's what makes Latinos different from non-Latinos. Marketers can now use this fascinating insight and new cultural identity model to connect with Latino consumers emotionally, deep within their hearts where brand loyalty and preference is established. The unique ability of Latino agencies to translate this new language of Latino identity will enable corporations to gain new insight and bond with Hispanic consumers, whose spending power is projected to reach $1 trillion in a few years."

I am pleased to announce that Simmons has agreed to work closely with AHAA and its Hispanic market partners to explore the development of new metrics on Latino culture and identity as well as refining existing ones. Simmons will use its expertise to propose and design the parameters of the proposed research AHAA is in similar discussions with Iconoculture and Synovate. The association is seeking feedback from corporate marketers - clients - during the conference and is scheduled to make presentations to the National Hispanic Corporate Council, the multicultural conference of the Association of National Advertisers and a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) symposium.

"We want to ensure that the creation of this new model wasn't an academic exercise," Kravetz says. "Every Latino marketer should be challenged to think about how this model can change the way advertising and messages are created and received. For example, the time and space perception of a Latino - the orientation to past and present rather than the notion that what I do today will benefit me in the future-- means that when marketing medication to treat lifelong illnesses such as diabetes, Latinos are less likely to perceive the long-term benefit of taking a pill every day. When they wake up and feel great each day for a week they may not take the medication. Using the new Latino Cultural Identity model we can create deeper, more meaningful messages to reach out to Latino consumers and change behaviors. It makes what we do even better since we are now able not only to describe Hispanic behavior but to understand why Latinos think and act as they do.

The Latino Identity Project was commissioned by AHAA with the research review and analysis provided by the Florida State University Department of Communication in cooperation with leading Latino academicians from Stanford and NYU. AHAA brought together account planners from eight agencies to lead the project that reviewed more than 40 years of academic literature on issues of identity and culture explored through psychology, anthropology, linguistics, health care, economics, education, sociology, management and the arts.

"Every dimension of Latino character was explored and yet the commonalities, which all focused around the four core characteristics, were fascinating and compelling. The Latino Cultural Identity model demonstrates not just that Latinos are unique, but why they are unique. We have not been speaking their language fluently. We can no longer oversimplify our consumers by limiting the discussion to Spanish or English but, instead, must elevate the conversation and focus on building a new common language of Latino Cultural Identity which speaks to the heart of every consumer. It's the number one rule of marketing - listen to your consumer."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NCLB'S SCHOOL EVALUATION SYSTEM IS A FLAWED REFORM TOOL, REPORT CONCLUDES

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU)

****NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE****

NCLB'S SCHOOL EVALUATION SYSTEM IS A FLAWED REFORM TOOL, REPORT CONCLUDES

CONTACT: William Mathis (802) 247-5757 (email) wmathis@sover.net or
Alex Molnar (480) 965-1886 (email) epsl@asu.edu

TEMPE, Ariz. (Tuesday, September 26, 2006) - Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP),
the school evaluation system central to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law,
is fundamentally flawed and should be suspended until the premises
underlying it can be confirmed or refuted by solid, scientific research,
according to University of Vermont Professor William J. Mathis.

NCLB mandates that schools make Adequate Yearly Progress on state
standardized tests en route to having all children reach proficiency
standards by 2014. Mathis' policy brief, "The Accuracy and Effectiveness of
Adequate Yearly Progress, NCLB's School Evaluation System," released by the
Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University, examines the
controversies surrounding the implementation of AYP and the proposals to
improve it.

"Although [U.S. Department of Education] Secretary [Margaret] Spellings has
claimed the law is 99.9 percent pure, the scientific evidence tells another
story," Mathis said. "Modest experiments with growth models, minimum group
sizes, graduation rates and discussion of national standards simply distract
from rather than solve the inherent shortcomings of the AYP system. In fact,
many of these changes may make the system perform even less accurately."

Mathis concludes that:

* NCLB's 100-percent proficiency goal is unattainable.

* Current proposals to improve AYP, such as value-added models, cannot
resolve the system's underlying problems.

* AYP is underfunded and the system fails to provide adequate programs aimed
at off-setting the impact of poverty; therefore, schools attended by the
neediest children are penalized disproportionately.


Find this document on the web at this link.

CONTACT:
William Mathis
Adjunct Professor
University of Vermont
(802) 247-5757
wmathis@sover.net

Many children still left behind

EDITORIAL by the editors of the Sn Francisco Chronicle. -Angela

Many children still left behind
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

SECRETARY of Education Margaret Spellings didn't quite declare "mission accomplished" in her glowing appraisal of the successes of the federal No Child Left Behind law in Tuesday's Open Forum. But she did suggest the nation is well on the road toward victory in the classroom.

"High standards plus accountability plus resources equals results," she wrote. She dinged unspecified "editorial writers" for suggesting that the law "sets the bar too high," noting that test scores in California schools have "shot up" by 8 percentage points in just two years. She specifically praised San Francisco schools. "In San Francisco, nearly half the students scored at grade level in reading and math, compared to 40 percent in 2003," wrote Spellings, a key author of the NCLB legislation.

The problem with these optimistic assessments is that they overstate the accomplishments being attributed to the five-year-old No Child Left Behind law.

Spellings neglected to mention that the San Francisco Unified School District is being punished by the federal government for failing to make "adequate yearly progress" as defined by the No Child Left Behind law.

San Francisco hasn't only failed this year -- it has failed for three years in a row.

The reason is that African American students, along with special education students, have failed to meet proficiency "targets" specified by the federal law.

At least 23 percent of each subgroup in the district is expected by the federal government to be "proficient" (defined as performing at grade level) on state tests in reading and 23.7 percent in math.

Only a third of Latino students met the proficiency goals. Even more distressing, just 22.7 percent of all black students, who make up 13 percent of the district's enrollment, scored at a proficient level in reading, and 21.2 percent did so in math.

Even though black students missed federal targets by a small margin, San Francisco has for the first time been designated a district in need of "program improvement."

Along with 166 other "program improvement" districts, San Francisco is now having to comply with a number of federal sanctions. These included having to advise all parents that they can transfer their children from "program improvement" schools to higher-performing ones. Ten percent of all federal Title I funds intended for low-income students must be spent on the "highly qualified" teacher provisions of the law.

Unless all sub-groups meet federal targets again next year, even more stringent federal sanctions will be imposed on the district.

What's most disconcerting is that the No Child Left Behind law has failed to accomplish one of its major goals -- closing the yawning achievement gap that separates black and Latino students on the one hand, and whites and Asians on the other.

In grades 6-8, for example, an impressive 74.7 percent of Asian students in San Francisco scored at a proficient level or higher in math. Some 64.7 percent of white students met the high standard. By contrast, a depressing 13.8 percent of African American 6th- to 8th-graders were proficient in math, and only 20.2 percent in reading.

Even though African American scores have improved in the past five years, they aren't catching up with higher-performing students. "The challenge for the district is that everyone is making the same gains, so we're not seeing a closing of the achievement gap," conceded Ky Vu, the district's director of state and federal programs.

He noted another paradox: although the district's overall test scores are higher than any other major urban district in California, the size of the achievement gap is also larger than any comparable district in the state. The gap is partly driven by the relatively high scores of students of Asian backgrounds, who represent 4 of 10 students in the district.

Educators in San Francisco are to be commended for instituting a wide range of initiatives to nudge up African American test scores. These include lengthening the school day, helping teachers develop new instructional techniques and other "enrichment" programs. "As a district we're proud of what we're doing, but we realize there is a lot of work ahead of us," Vu told us.

San Francisco and other diverse school districts cannot relent in their efforts to make sure that all students succeed. But it seems clear that it will take far more than a piece of federal legislation to close a stubborn achievement gap rooted in a potent mix of class, race, neighborhood, culture and history.

We are nowhere close to being able to declare victory.

Page B - 8

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/09/27/EDG6PKDU3B1.DTL&hw=schools&sn=002&sc=759

Saturday, September 23, 2006

BILINGUAL BABIES: FOREIGN-LANGUAGE BENEFITS

Research shows that children who study languages are more imaginative,
better with abstract ideas and more flexible in their thinking. Students
of foreign languages also score statistically higher on standardized
tests, such as the SAT. Consistently, students who have taken four or
more years of a foreign language have scored higher on the SAT's verbal
section than those who have studied four years of any other subject,
according to the College Entrance Examination Board. Later in life,
bilingual people have access to a greater number of career
possibilities, and develop a deeper understanding of their own and other
cultures. When children learn another language at a young age, writes
Kellie B. Gormly, they are more likely to acquire greater proficiency
and speak with near-native accents. While many of today's adults had to
wait until junior high to get solid instruction in a foreign language,
today's children have many more options that come a lot earlier. In
fact, experts say, the earlier children learn a language -- ideally, as
toddlers -- the better. Between ages 3 and 5, children are like
intuitive little sponges that can absorb up to five or even more
languages at a time, says Betsy Hanna, director of the regional Berlitz
Language Center in Robinson. Their small brains actually have the
ability to compartmentalize languages, too, so that learning a foreign
tongue doesn't inhibit a young child's developing English skills, Hanna
says. And unlike older children and adults -- who tend to learn a
foreign language by studying its grammar rules, thinking and practicing
carefully -- tots simply will develop an instinct for a language, just
like they do for their native English.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribunereview/living/family/s_471078.html

EDUCATING ALL STUDENTS TO BE CONCEPTUAL THINKERS

Studies have shown that many of our high schools, even those that boast
of high graduation and college-attendance rates, rarely demand that
students use information, skills, and technologies to construct new
knowledge and to solve complex problems, integrate concepts and ideas
across disciplines, communicate effectively orally and in writing, and
work in diverse groups. Yet this is precisely the kind of learning
students need for a Conceptual Age. Students themselves tell us that
they want to be held to high standards but that they find their high
schools boring, unchallenging, and disconnected from their lives.
Closing the achievement gap between white and minority students -- and
making sure all students are prepared to function successfully in a
changing world -- will require a dispassionate examination of a high
school system that all too often is failing students on two levels. Two
serious gaps hold back most of our students and risk the prosperous
future of the entire country. The gap we hear least about is the one
between a rigorous, intellectually challenging curriculum and the rote
instructional program that is commonplace in far too many classrooms.
The gap we hear much more about is the one in student achievement that
is exposed when data is disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and family
income. Are we supplying the conditions in our schools to create a new
crop of original thinkers? Are we making sure our curricula and
instructional programs are not relegated to repetitive practice,
gathering and organizing information, remediation, and test prep? Are we
requiring all students to use their minds well to construct knowledge,
to inquire, to invent, to make meaning and relevance out of their
learning? Hardly, writes Gerry House in the most recent issue of America
School Board Journal.

http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0406SpecialReports/S4.html

OPTING OUT OF PRIVATE SCHOOL

It's the lurking fear of every private-school parent: The kid next door
is getting just as good an education at the public school -- free of
charge. Across the country, some schools and education professionals
report a growing movement from private to public. Among the possible
reasons: Private-school tuition has grown sharply higher, while some
colleges are boosting the number of students they take from public
schools. New studies have suggested that public-school students often
tested as well or better than their private school peers. And
increasingly, public schools are enriching their programs by holding the
same kinds of fund-raisers often associated with private schools, such
as auctions and capital campaigns. Not all public schools are seeing
these transfers, reports Nancy Keates: Top-scoring schools in affluent
areas tend to get the highest influxes from private schools. In fact,
the shift serves to highlight the gap between well-funded schools and
their underfunded counterparts, often inner-city schools.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06258/722158-298.stm

Opportunity in America: The Role of Education

Stagnating incomes for the middle class together with rising income
inequality have raised questions about whether the United States remains
the land of opportunity celebrated in the nation's history and public
philosophy. This brief, written by Isabel Sawhill, reviews the evidence
on intergenerational mobility and the role of education in enabling less
advantaged children to move up the economic ladder. It concludes that,
in many respects, the U.S. education system tends to reinforce rather
than compensate for differences in family background. Strengthening
opportunity requires greater, and more effective, investments in
education, especially for America's youngest children. The public views
education as the great leveler. Education is, in the eyes of many, a way
of breaking the link between family or socioeconomic background and a
child's chance to succeed (or fail) later in life.

http://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_dc/opportunity_policy_brief.pdf

BEYOND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

BEYOND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

Some education advocates are concerned that the national preoccupation
with the No Child Left Behind law, understandable as it is, will cause
us to do nothing or little about other important, far-reaching
educational issues -- issues at least as important as those arising from
NCLB. It would be unwise, writes Thomas Sobol -- not to give such
matters the continuing attention they deserve. A loosely organized cadre
of currently serving and recently retired school superintendents, called
Public Schools for Tomorrow, has been discussing these issues throughout
the past year. They believe that superintendents with a lifelong
commitment to educating all children can bring a unique perspective to
the dialogue. Here are six of the issues they have identified: (1)
Equity and Adequacy; (2) Diversity; (3) Democracy; (4) Curriculum and
Instruction; (5) Technology; and (6) Capacity. The piecemeal,
underfunded initiatives that exist at present are inadequate to the
need. We need a national, systemic, adequately funded program to develop
the capacities of our teaching corps. These are issues that will affect
our children's education long after the No Child Left Behind Act has had
its day. They should not be neglected now.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/09/20/04sobol.h26.html

What the Public Really Wants on Education

What the Public Really Wants on Education
by Ruy Texeira

September 18, 2006

Read the full report..

There is broad agreement across the political spectrum that the public school system needs to be reformed to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The question is: How?

Specific education reform proposals vary widely. Some argue that more money and resources are key. Others say that more money would be wasted. Their answer: policy provisions to enforce and maintain high academic standards, with sanctions for poorly-performing schools. Still others contend reform is doomed to fail unless market pressures are introduced into the system through the provision of vouchers to attend private schools.

This debate is intense, particularly after several years of experience with the successes and failures of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act, which enacted into law strict educational standards, mandatory testing, and (at least in theory) more federal funding of public education. The various protagonists in this debate naturally claim public support for their positions, yet a comprehensive survey of public opinion polls shows that the public’s ideas for reform do not fit neatly into any one of the camps in this debate.

Despite criticisms of its current performance, the public’s views on educational reform start with strong support of the public school system—particularly as it functions for low-income students. The public wants that performance improved, starting with higher standards, and is willing to tolerate fairly strict guidelines and testing regimes to accomplish this goal.

But the public recognizes that these tougher standards need to be tempered with flexibility. And it believes the quest for educational excellence means that more money has to be spent on public schools—to reduce class size, attract better teachers, modernize school infrastructure, provide more preschool and afterschool programs, and help lagging schools meet NCLB requirements.

The data also indicates that the public is far more interested in implementing more accountability in public schools and providing more resources to the public school system than in moving to a voucher-based system. Indeed, vouchers tend to lose badly today when in political propositions precisely because they are perceived to be in conflict with the public’s commitment to adequate resources for public schools.

The more policymakers understand these nuanced views of the public on education reform, the easier it will become to build public support for a strong reform agenda. What the Public Really Wants on Education, our latest monthly analysis of U.S. public opinion polls, seeks to provide that understanding.

Good critique of NCLB that's reaching popular audiences via t.v.

"David Simon and his remarkable team have created a riveting and thought-provoking series that's unlike anything else on TV," said HBO Entertainment president Carolyn Strauss as she announced that 'The Wire' was being renewed for a fifth (and final) season. Read more,


This is a good read from an HBO tv series called "The Wire." Involves a critique of NCLB and more that's reaching popular audiences.

-Angela


Educational TV

The most scabrous critique of Bush's education policy isn't coming from a think tank or newspaper but from the grittiest drama on television, "The Wire."
By James Hynes


Sep. 20, 2006 |

Early in the superb new season of HBO's "The Wire," Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, disgraced cop turned rookie math teacher at Edward J. Tilghman Middle School in Baltimore, attends a meeting with several veteran teachers. Fans of "The Wire" already know Prez's back story as a perennial fuck-up who turned out to be a surprisingly gifted investigator of the drug trade's paper trail, but who in the end had no instinct for the street; his police career ended last season when he accidentally shot and killed a black undercover cop. Now he's the new guy in the teacher's lounge, sitting on a hard chair in an overlit room with three gimlet-eyed women.

"Keep your windows closed," one advises him about the hard-case students he hasn't even met yet. "Makes 'em drowsy, and drowsy's good."

"Build in lots of activities in your lesson plan," says another. "You keep them busy, you keep them off guard."

As the three women file out, the camera lingers on poor, stunned Prez (the excellent Jim True-Frost), and you can see he's already wondering if he might be better off back with the violent young hoppers on the drug corners of West Baltimore. Built into this scene is a good deal of verisimilitude. Informed by the experiences of producer Ed Burns -- who, like Pryzbylewski, was both a detective and a schoolteacher in Baltimore -- "The Wire" is taking on the crisis in urban public education, the same way it has in previous seasons examined such highly charged issues as the futility of the "war on drugs," the institutional corruption in the police department, and the slow strangulation of the industrial working class, from a political point of view best described as Old Testament liberal in its rage for social justice.

We all know the Stations of the Cross for the inspirational-teacher film by now: the naive young teacher's disastrous first class; the staff meeting that devolves into a bitch session about unruly students, pointless paperwork and the idiotic directives of the administration; the embittered veteran teacher condescending to the idealistic rookie in the teacher's lounge; a climactic confrontation that either threatens violence or delivers it; and a final, tear-jerking moment of redemption as the teach finally reaches the kids. Some of these moments show up even in "The Wire," but it has ever been the collective genius of the show's writers to reinvent stock situations and characters through brilliant storytelling and a pointed intelligence. What's remarkable about the new season of "The Wire" is how they modify and transcend these tropes to deliver a passionate and remarkably detailed and incisive critique of public education in the era of No Child Left Behind.

Thus, in Episode 3 of "The Wire," written by the novelist Richard Price, we get a sly reference to the story's genealogy as Ms. Donnelly, the school's unflappable assistant principal, barks, "Don't go up the down staircase," at the stampede of kids on the first day, and Prez's canonically disastrous first class that same day vividly recalls Sandy Dennis' in the 1967 film "Up the Down Staircase." But then in Episode 4, "The Wire" ventures into more politically charged territory with the return of the formidable Robert Wisdom as Howard "Bunny" Colvin, the veteran police commander who last season trashed his 30-year career by, in effect, legalizing the drug trade in certain neighborhoods of his district, in an ambitious and finally disastrous plan. This season he teams up with a nebbishy academic to try something similar at Prez's school, namely separating "the corner kids" (the ones already implicated in the drug trade) from "the stoop kids" (the ones who still obey their parents and teachers). Colvin argues that the regular classes will be able to learn now that the mouthiest kids are gone, and the corner kids will get extra attention from a special program devoted solely to socializing them. Right from the start, the administration is skeptical.

"Isn't this just tracking?" asks one administrator, invoking the discredited educational strategy of segregating students by aptitude and (by implication) likelihood of success. To which Colvin replies -- just as he replied last season when he was asked if he wasn't just legalizing drugs -- So what? Kids are going to learn something, somewhere, so why not teach them what they need to know in school, instead of holding them to a standard they cannot possibly hope to meet? The scheme is tentatively approved, but the administrator tells Colvin and the professor not to "do anything that makes us look bad." At first, Colvin's experiment shows good results, as the corner kids slowly learn that there's more to social interaction than fight or flight and Pryzbylewski's classroom calms enough to allow his native intelligence and decency to work on his students -- allow him, in the parlance of "The Wire," to show some flex. He makes progress by improvising a curriculum, teaching his kids probability, for example, by letting them play dice in class, a game they know from the corner. Then a couple of obstacles are thrown in his path, one institutional and one sociological, bringing the show to the crux of its diagnosis of what ails the urban school system.

The institutional obstacle is the No Child Left Behind policy. With the approach of the annual, NCLB-mandated Maryland State Assessment test, Pryzbylewski's hard-won progress stalls as he's forced not only to teach to the test -- basically giving the kids the answers in advance -- but even to turn his math class into an English class for a time, to improve the school's low language arts scores. In the meantime Colvin's kids, who are only just learning to say "please" and "thank you" and not to call each other "bitch" and "motherfucker," are forced to take the same test, for which they are not, and cannot realistically be, prepared. It becomes clear that the school has more to gain by simply "disappearing" these hopeless students (aided by a creative truant policy that only requires offenders to show up one day a month) than by trying to teach them anything.

With NCLB coming up for renewal next year, I'm not sure what it says about the debate on education that the sharpest and most high-profile critique I've seen or read comes from a brilliantly foul-mouthed HBO series about cops and drug dealers that's grittier than all the "CSIs" put together. There's no denying the visceral power of the show's indictment, as we see the pedagogically deadening effect of "teaching to the test" scathingly dramatized, as the kids who were giddily learning probability the week before now slump comatose at their desks as Prez coaches them instead in bullshit test-taking strategies. Even more scathing is the show's continuing indictment of a bureaucracy's imperative to cover its own ass, in this case the school's yielding to the temptation to corrupt the test results in its favor.

"We're just juking the stats," says Pryzbylewski, comparing the massaging of the test scores to the police practice of downgrading crimes (from rape to assault, for example) in order to lower the official crime rate. If this seems overly cynical, consider the recent report in the Washington Post that revealed that Maryland's own assessment showed that 82 percent of its fourth graders were proficient in reading, while the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the NAEP test, showed only 32 percent proficiency. Forget "Law and Order"; it's "The Wire" that's ripped from the headlines.

The other obstacle in the path of a serious education, though, has nothing to do with laws or policy initiatives: It's simply the irresistible pressure, and pull, of the corner on the lives of these kids. In one memorable scene in "Up the Down Staircase," an experienced teacher walks Sandy Dennis down an especially scary block near their school and tells her, of their students, "This is where they spend 18 hours a day, and we have them for six. Almost insurmountable odds, 18 to six." "The Wire" is a brilliant sermon on this scripture, dramatizing the corrosive effect of the street on four young boys, whose intertwined stories, in a series full of heartbreak, are the most poignant and harrowing in the history of the show. Together they recall the story of the doomed young drug runner Wallace from Season 1, and multiply it by four. One kid, Dukie, hides his books and clothes so that his family won't sell them for drug money; Michael becomes the fiercely protective de facto parent to his younger brother; Namond, the son of imprisoned Barksdale lieutenant Wee-Bay, is bullied by his horrific mother into the family business; and the impish Randy, who has a gift for entrepreneurship, is pressured by both police and school officials into snitching on his peers, an extremely dangerous pursuit in the world of "The Wire."

These interwoven stories stitch together the show's other, equally riveting plotlines -- the ongoing investigation of the murderous drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield and the mayoral campaign of the white city councilman Tommy Carcetti -- into a wholesale critique not just of cynical education policy, but of a political culture unable to rescue generation after generation of children. Even without the boondoggle of NCLB, Simon and his colleagues are saying, the schools face insurmountable odds when the street is an ineradicable presence in the classroom, and the classroom has a negligible effect on the street. Fixing education, in other words, will take more than just fixing education policy.

Characters on "The Wire" -- and perhaps their writers -- have consistently demonstrated little respect for anybody, cop or teacher, who works above the level of the street, and little respect for airy theories of law enforcement or education, let alone underfunded federal mandates. Indeed, in the working-class aesthetic of "The Wire," the more hands-on you are, the more honorable you're likely to be, and the further you are from the street, the more likely you are to succumb to inertia or corruption or both. By showing Pryzbylewski, in a later episode, quietly intervening in the life of one of the four boys, the show suggests that the heart of education will always be a one-on-one interaction between teacher and student, regardless of the political or institutional context.

Sad to say, the things that were wrong with the high school in "Up the Down Staircase" 40 years ago are the same things that are wrong with the middle schools here, especially in "The Wire": too many kids with too little hope; too few teachers with too little pay and too much to do; and an underfunded, bureaucratically top-heavy system tacitly willing to give up on kids from the wrong neighborhoods in order to juke the stats. On top of these perennial problems, No Child Left Behind, in "The Wire's" scabrous critique, is a vicious joke, preparing the very kids it's ostensibly designed to help for nothing in particular, and even, in practice, leaving behind the most difficult students because they fuck up the test results. One of the plotlines in "The Wire" resolves finally with an individual act of charity straight out of "Oliver Twist" -- not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but it's a helluva thing to see tough-minded liberals giving up on any hope of institutional reform. Dickens is the novelist most often cited as the model for "The Wire's" scope and complexity, and for the show's intensity for social justice. Pryzbylewski's teaching craps and Bunny Colvin's ad hoc social engineering are better than nothing, but they don't solve the larger problems. Rescue one kid, and that still leaves all the others out there, banging on their corners, with no hope and not even much of a life expectancy. Even Dickens himself would have to say, in the redolent patois of the corner boys, that shit ain't right.

-- By James Hynes
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2006/09/20/the_wire/print.html

Counter-response to NCLR's Raul Gonzalez by Jim Crawford, Stephen Krashen & Kate Menken

To make sense of this, see previous 2 posts. -Angela

Dear Raul,

We are pleased to hear that the National Council of La Raza remains "very open to a constructive conversation about how we should approach renewal of No Child Left Behind." Certainly it would be beneficial if advocates for English language learners could resolve issues that divide us, and speak with a unified voice on Capitol Hill. In that spirit, we offer a few points that we see as important to address.

1. Attention. There's no disagreement that, as you put it, NCLB serves to "focus the attention of the education system on [ELLs]." The relevant question is whether that attention has been beneficial or harmful. Since the law took effect, we believe the impact has been overwhelmingly in the latter category, according to research studies and reports from the field. In particular, the high stakes attached to assessments -- administered primarily in English -- have had perverse effects that contradict everything we know about best practices for ELLs. These include:

pressuring schools to limit native-language instruction and dismantle bilingual education programs, while fostering subtractive rather than additive approaches to bilingualism;

barring students from educational and life opportunities, by encouraging states to use a single test -- which ELLs disproportionately fail -- to determine high school graduation, grade promotion, and program placement;

creating a disincentive for schools to enroll ELL students, who are viewed as "deficient" and a downward drag on schoolwide test scores;

narrowing the curriculum to language arts and math, the two subjects that count for "adequate yearly progress," at the expense of everything else in the school day;

emphasizing test preparation and other drills that stress basic low-level skills and fail to stimulate critical thinking;
replacing second-language acquisition strategies with a focus on English language arts instruction, and promoting a heavily phonics-based approach to reading that is neither supported by research nor tailored to ELLs' needs;

producing a two-tier education system that takes a remedial approach toward ELLs, while offering enrichment opportunities for more privileged children;

labeling and sanctioning schools for "failure" on the basis of flawed assessments that are neither valid nor reliable for ELLs (see below) and thus provide no meaningful way to judge the quality of instruction; and

demoralizing dedicated educators and, all too often, driving them from the profession, because NCLB's accountability system is too blunt an instrument to fairly evaluate their programs.

To date we have seen none of the promised benefits of NCLB. Instead, we see ELLs being "left behind" and further marginalized.

2. The achievement gap. You argue that an NCLB-style approach to accountability is needed because "the educational achievement gap between ELLs and their counterparts remained stubbornly persistent, notwithstanding a wave of policy and litigation successes in the 1970s and 1980s, and unprecedented federal investments in education in the 1990s."

Is this statement based on research evidence showing, as you imply, a lack of academic gains for ELLs over that period? We are not aware of any such evidence, nor of any valid baseline against which to gauge their progress or lack thereof. Nevertheless, we do know of numerous effective bilingual education programs today that did not exist in the 1970s or 1980s. Not that a majority ELLs are currently getting the education they need and deserve. Far from it. Schools have plenty of room for improvement. But your conclusion is troubling to us because it tends to minimize the potential damage that NCLB could do by sanctioning or even dismantling effective programs.

In any case, the "achievement gap" is a meaningless concept for judging the progress of ELLs. By definition -- NCLB's definition -- these are students who are unlikely to reach "proficient levels of achievement on State assessments" because of language barriers. They typically score far below English-proficient students on tests that do not measure growth and were not designed or normed for ELLs. When students are tested in a language they have yet to master, an achievement gap is inevitable. It is neither fair nor reasonable to expect otherwise. Then, as ELLs acquire English and begin to catch up academically, they are reclassified and leave the ELL subgroup. The effect is to lower average ELL scores and ensure that the subgroup will always be "low-performing."


Bemoaning the achievement gap in this context simply becomes a demagogic way to bash the schools.

3. Assessment. It still puzzles us why your organization would "applaud" the U.S. Department of Education for mandating assessments for ELLs (and counting them for AYP purposes) after just 12 months in U.S. schools. Why not 10 months, 18 months, or 36 months? The decision was entirely arbitrary, with no basis in research. Wouldn't it be better to base important policies for ELLs on science rather than on what "seems right" to federal bureaucrats?


Study after study shows that one year is nowhere near enough time for a child to acquire enough English to have a meaningful score on English-language tests. Nobody, including the Department of Education, denies that the vast majority of assessments used for ELLs today are neither valid nor reliable for measuring their academic progress. So what purpose does it serve to "hold schools accountable" on the basis of inaccurate measures? How does it help kids to make high-stakes decisions about them and about their schools on the basis of misinformation? This strikes us as irresponsible, to put it kindly.

We support efforts at state and federal levels to improve assessments for ELLs. Yet we remain skeptical that the crash program of "technical assistance" recently launched by the Department of Education will produce English-language tests, including those with "accommodations," that are appropriate for high-stakes purposes. For a group that is so diverse in language proficiency -- ranging from students without a word of English to those who are nearly ready for mainstream classrooms -- developing valid and reliable assessments in English is an enormous, perhaps insuperable challenge. Rather than spend large amounts of time and money in seeking this Holy Grail, it would make more sense to devote resources to the kind of assistance that schools actually need to improve instruction. This means ensuring that children have high-quality textbooks and materials, well staffed and well stocked school libraries, well equipped classrooms, and well trained teachers who are qualified to serve ELLs.

4. Accountability. To us it seems defeatist to say: "Since our assessment is that NCLB in some form or another is here to stay, our approach is to leverage it to improve schooling for ELLs." This kind of reasoning could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We believe that NCLB is only one approach to accountability, and a deeply flawed one at that. Reauthorization provides an opportunity to come up with a more appropriate and effective accountability system, one that truly benefits ELLs rather than threatens to reverse the progress that has been made over the past generation. We have some ideas along those lines. But owing to the length of this message, we'll hold them for another time.


We look forward to continuing this exchange.


Jim Crawford
Stephen Krashen
Kate Menken

Response to critics by Raul Gonzalez, NCLR's Legislative Director, on NCLR's position with respect to English language learners and NCLB

Here is the response to critics by Raul Gonzalez, NCLR's Legislative Director, on NCLR's position with respect to English language learners and NCLB. See previous post on critics' concerns. Again, you may direct questions either to Raul Gonzalez at NCLR or Melissa Lazarin, Senior Policy Analyst, NCLR Education Reform .

-Angela


Hi all,
Thanks for your comments, although they are a bit painful, I must admit. We appreciate that you have a different perspective on this policy, but we think it creates an opportunity to have an open discussion of what we've been doing and gain your insight into how we can best serve the needs of ELLs. We do begin from the proposition that NCLB will help us focus the attention of the education system on these kids – with the end goal of getting the schools that serve them the funding they need to meet the needs of ELLs, the assessments to accurately measure how well these kids are being served, and some tools to help Latino parents and community members hold local schools accountable. I don't think anyone can deny that ELLs have not received the support they’ve needed. At issue is what strategy we can use to get these children the resources and instruction they deserve. Since our assessment is that NCLB in some form or another is here to stay, our approach is to leverage it to improve schooling for ELLs.

Prior to NCLB, as all of us noted, the educational achievement gap between ELLs and their counterparts remained stubbornly persistent, notwithstanding a wave of policy and litigation successes in the 1970s and 1980s, and unprecedented federal investments in education in the 1990s. Moreover, the policy trends were going against us (i.e., successful anti-bilingual education ballot propositions in CA and AZ); the federal judiciary was becoming less sympathetic, etc. Even under Bill Clinton, with ELL advocates in the Administration (Norma Cantu at the Office for Civil Rights), individual school districts (e.g., Denver) covered by ELL-focused consent decrees were able to flaunt their noncompliance with impunity. Here in Washington, DC, NCLR was party to a compliance agreement with the DC Public Schools and the Office for Civil Rights on ELL instruction. That agreement was signed in the early 1990’s. We’re just now getting it implemented. Clearly, the "traditional" access agenda, focused on consent decrees, civil rights enforcement, and more money at the federal level, and strong policy at the state level, had failed to make substantial progress in closing the gap. As NCLR has noted previously, at issue is not that the traditional civil rights/access agendas were wrong – we continue to pursue an access agenda. We just feel it’s an incomplete strategy. In that context, we view the full inclusion of ELLs in any accountability system as one important tool needed to augment and indeed reinforce strong policies in other contexts.

Upon passage of NCLB, we immediately met with the Department and asked (1) for them to deploy a significant Technical Assistance strategy for states and districts so that they are better prepared to serve ELLs, and (2) for increased funding for ELLs. They didn’t do any of those things; thus, DC lobbyists for states and districts had an opening to begin advocating for exempting ELLs from their assessments and accountability systems. The Department moved to give states these exemptions, but NCLR intervened because we saw little to no evidence that states were moving toward developing native language assessments or other appropriate assessments, nor were states showing that they were making serious efforts to improve instruction for ELLs. Our challenge to the Department was to not give any states exemptions unless states demonstrated that they were doing those things. We asked them instead to give states tools to serve ELLs better – not a blanket waiver that would mean states didn’t have to do anything. The result is that for the first time ever the federal Department of Education is engaged in an effort to help states develop assessments appropriate for ELLs, including native language assessments, and is sending a clear message that state Title I plans will not be approved if they do not include assessments which are valid and reliable for ELLs. I thought that educators would agree that that's a good thing, but perhaps I've been in DC and out of the classroom for too long.

At the end of the day, all we can do is hope to be judged on our record. It includes working in concert with NABE, MALDEF, META, and others, in some cases successfully and in other cases less so, to advocate for the strongest possible policies to support ELLs, including five successive Title VII/Title III reauthorizations, several Higher Education Act reauthorizations (including the 1998 renewal which created a separate Title for HSIs), the recent renewal of the School Lunch Act, which gives migrant students portable eligibility (they won’t have to recertify when they move to new schools), and a House Head Start bill which provides new slots for migrant children and several provisions intended to provide ELL and Latino children greater access to the program and better ELL-specific services. It includes shaping legislation that: successfully legalized nearly three million people in the 1980s; increased legal immigration by more than 500,000 per year beginning in 1990; and restored almost $20 billion in benefits to millions of legal immigrants cut in the 1996 welfare reform. It includes shaping a massive expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit that each year lifts two million Latinos out of poverty. It includes creating new affordable homeownership programs and products that have helped increase Latino homeownership rates to record highs. It includes shepherding the promulgation of executive orders on Hispanic education and language access requirements for all federal agencies and recipients of federal funding.

I know personally that ELLs and poor minority kids have been ignored in schools. I’m not trying to bash the public schools, but am making that statement as someone who attended Title I schools in NYC all of his life, taught in Title I schools, and worked for a Democratic Congressman whose focus was on education. It sounds like folks on this list serve attended and taught in similar types of schools and have derived their passion for the issue from that experience. NCLR believes that the future of Latino and ELL kids is based on how well they are served by public schools; and that the future of the public schools is based on how well they serve ELLs and Latinos. So, we’re very open to a constructive conversation about how we should approach renewal of NCLB. We’re really not wedded to any specific policies or strategies right now and would love to hear from outside-the-beltway experts about how we can achieve better instruction, curriculum development, and assessment for ELLs. Too often, academics and advocates have separate conversations about education policy. It’d be really good to bridge that gap going in to reauthorization of NCLB. Thanks,
Raul Gonzalez
Legislative Director
NCLR
rgonzalez@nclr.org

NCLR's position on English Lang Learners and Critics' Responses

Here is the latest on NCLR's position on their position on NCLB with respect to English language learners and critics' response to it--all posted to the listserv of the Institute for Language and Education Policy (ELLADVOC@ASU.EDU.

You may direct questions either to Raul Gonzalez at NCLR or Melissa Lazarín, Senior Policy Analyst, NCLR Education Reform at Melissa Lazarin . My next two posts are Raul Gonzaelz' response to critics and a more elaborated response by Jim Crawford, Stephen Krashen, and Kate Menken.

-Angela


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sep 13, 2006


NCLR APPLAUDS U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION'S POLICY ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

Washington, DC – The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., today expressed strong support for the U.S. Department of Education's final regulations for states in addressing the needs of English language learners (ELLs). The final regulations will ensure that ELLs' academic achievements are taken into account, while providing some flexibility to states in how they are held accountable for helping ELLs.

"Getting the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) right is critical for Latino students, nearly half of whom are ELLs," stated Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. "The Department's regulations strike a balance which ensures that ELLs get the attention they deserve but have often not received, while at the same time giving states time to help ELLs learn English and improve in other important subjects."

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced two final NCLB regulations related to ELLs. First, schools may continue to count ELL students who become English proficient as ELL students under the NCLB-mandated accountability system. Without this important change, many schools that are successful in helping ELLs become English proficient would be unable to demonstrate this progress and may be unfairly punished under the law.

Secretary Spellings also announced that ELLs who have attended public schools for less than one year may be exempt from taking English-language reading tests for one year. This ensures that schools have an opportunity to help ELLs improve their English-language and reading skills before they are held accountable for their progress in reading/language arts.

In addition to increasing flexibility, the Department has also established a partnership with states, NCLR, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to provide states with technical assistance and other tools for developing better tests to measure ELL student achievement.

Murguía concluded, "We deeply appreciate the Department's efforts to provide states with the right tools to implement NCLB. This law and our schools will not be successful if NCLB does not work to address the needs of all students, including those who are learning English. We call on Congress to further support our schools by adequately funding this important law."

All Content © 2006 NCLR. All Rights Reserved
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
From: Discussion Group for Organizational Alternatives for ELL Research and Advocacy [mailto:ELLADVOC@ASU.EDU ] On Behalf Of Luis O. Reyes
Sent: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 11:10 PM
To: ELLADVOC@ASU.EDU
Subject: NCLR APPLAUDS U.S. DoE'S POLICY ON ELLs

Excerpt:

"Secretary Spellings also announced that ELLs who have attended public schools for less than one year may be exempt from taking English-language reading tests for one year. This ensures that schools have an opportunity to help ELLs improve their English-language and reading skills before they are held accountable for their progress in reading/language arts."

What do our assessment experts have to say about the "science-based" justification for only a one-year exemption from ELA testing for recently arrived ELLs? I'm assuming the reality that ELA testing of ELLs will continue this coming year and beyond, absent any legislative changes in the NCLB reauthorization process.

Under the rubric of doing no harm or mitigating harm, what do the experts say? The July GAO report on ELL assessment included an appendix with the names of such assessment experts who were involved in reviewing the states' ELL assessment plans and instruments. Among the experts cited were Jamal Abedi, Patricia Gandara and Richard Duran.

Any ideas about how to respond to this issue.? It seems like a clearly political decision with MALDEF and NCLR playing the role of enablers of the US DoE's accountability agenda. Local and national ELL advocates need expert advice about how to question these two final NCLB regulations related to ELLs.

Any takers?

Luis O. Reyes
New York City
luisoreyes@aol.com
_______________________________________________________________________________________________
On 9/14/06, Alex Poole wrote:
I'll take this one. Briefly, we all know that there is no evidence
that even a minority of ELLs can become proficient in academic English
in a year. Where they get this notion of one year is beyond my
imagination.

But something more concrete to consider is this: In many parts of
rural America, we have ELLs in school districts that have zero
experience with such students, have a hard time developing programs,
and have an even harder time getting teachers. However, in one year,
they may go from having no ELLs to 50 or more.

In fact, in many of these districts, it takes a year even to find a
teacher, and many times they are given emergency certification
contingent upon completing the necessary coursework to receive ESL
certification. Frequently, the students have little formal schooling
in their first language, and thus are behind on content, and so they
must catch up on that while learning English. If the district has more
than one school, the ESL teacher will most likely have to drive long
distances, and the students will receive about an hour a day of pull-
out.

I see this situation regularly in Kentucky. Holding these students and
their teachers "accountable" is terribly unfair, highly stressful for
all involved, and scientifically unjustifiable.

Thus, if we're talking about specific questions, I would ask whether
or not there are different standards for districts that have
established ELL programs and those which have recently developed them,
or are in the process of doing so.

Alex Poole (West Kentucky University)
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alex is right. Our research in Israel showed that Russian immigrant children took as long as 7 years to reach native norms in Hebrew and Math. So it is clear that to hold the children accountable is unreasonable. But the related question is how to encourage schools to offer assistance during this period.

Bernard Spolsky
Professor emeritus, Bar-Ilan University
Editor, LANGUAGE POLICY
Mail: 32 Habad Street, 97500 Jerusalem, Israel
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Petrovic, John wrote:
It is unfortunate that the NCLR has abandoned its critical stance on most issues. NCLR has embraced various forms of vulgar multiculturalism (e.g., giving kudos to Spellings as below for continuing to do harm to children) just because lip-service is paid to Latino children and has operated within the horrific limits of identity politics (e.g., applauding the appointment of Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General).

Perhaps this is a bit too shrill, but it some ways recent NCLR actions remind me of what Manning Marable once wrote about the Reagan administration (an administration identical to Bush's in its opposition to women's rights, civil rights, gay and lesbian rights, ad nauseum). Marable argued that that administration "pursue[d] what objectively amount[ed] to an unprecedented racist assault against minorities while simultaneously appointing blacks to prestigious positions and disclaiming any racist intentions. Thomas Sowell, Ralph D. Abernathy, Tony Brown, Walter Williams, Nathan Wright ... therefore became essential to the destruction of the black community."
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

John,

I share your disappointment with the rightward drift of NCLR and its efforts to ingratiate itself with the Bush administration. It was amazing to see Karl Rove giving a keynote at the recent NCLR conference.

Unfortunately, with NCLR and its allies -- including the Education Trust and now apparently MALDEF -- we're dealing with something more complicated. They espouse a "civil rights" justification for No Child Left Behind that is effective with liberal Democrats like George Miller and Ted Kennedy. It's an ideological approach that essentially says that if ELLs (and other "left behind" subgroups) are doing poorly in school, it must be because the schools are neglecting them. Forget about poverty and its effects, which don't get much attention in today's political climate. It's easier to join with rightwingers to pick on the schools and race-bait critics.

So NCLR et al. have fixated on the principle of "inclusion" of ELLs in accountability systems, however bad those systems may be. They're willing to acknowledge the almost complete lack of valid & reliable assessments for ELLs: http://www.nclr.org/content/publications/detail/37365/. Nevertheless, these groups continue to push for high-stakes use of those assessments. Who cares if public schools are treated unfairly -- after all, they're the enemy. (It may be no coincidence that NCLR is heavily into charter schools.)

This ideology is a holdover from the 1970s, when it was clear that most school districts were resisting an obligation to do anything different for ELLs. In fact, the so-called Citizens Committee for Civil Rights, which works closely with NCLR, is made up of litigators who worked on some of those lawsuits. A great deal has changed, following Lau v. Nichols, the Aspira consent decree, and the development of the field of bilingual education. But the ideologues just don't recognize these changes. It's easier to fall back on faux militancy and wrap yourself in the flag of civil rights. A high staffer at NCLR once told me that "nothing good" had ever happened for ELLs before No Child Left Behind.

This is the mentality we're dealing with.

Jim Crawford
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, September 18, 2006

NEBRASKA WINS FEDERAL OK ON ASSESSMENT SYSTEM, NO FINE

This is really good news for Nebraska. -Angela

NEBRASKA WINS FEDERAL OK ON ASSESSMENT SYSTEM, NO FINE

Nebraska was notified today by the U.S. Department of Education that it has reversed its earlier decision. The Nebraska assessment system has moved into an “approval” status.

“While we still have work to do with two more steps to complete, our system has been validated as we knew it should have been from the beginning,” Nebraska Education Commissioner Doug Christensen said Friday after talking to U.S.D.E. officials by telephone. “We expect to complete all the requirements by the end of the school year for the highest level of approval. We are pleased that all penalties and fines announced earlier have been removed so no money will be withheld and no penalties applied.”

“We can now get on with fully implementing our system,” Christensen said, “which includes completing the review of local school district assessments during this school year and, once we know what is required, assessing our students who are learning English for the first time in school.”

“The U.S.D.E. decision today was consistent with what the Nebraska Department of Education had said all along,” Christensen said. “The confusion has ended. This whole issue revolved around meeting timelines, not about our local assessment system.”

The review of local assessments will begin in October.

“We are pleased that U.S.D.E. officials were impressed with the process we designed for the review of local assessments,” said Pat Roschewski, state assessment administrator.

Nebraska educators as well as national assessment experts will visit all 254 school districts this year to review how schools assess students on state reading and mathematic standards. The results of those reviews will help districts assess student learning and also meet U.S.D.E. documentation requirements.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Study says English is alive, well

This restates what my book is about. Schooling is subtractive. -Angela
Sept. 14, 2006, 6:04AM

Study says English is alive, well
Offspring of immigrants are increasingly losing touch with their native tongues
By ERICKA MELLON
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

The English language is not an endangered species in the United States, despite an influx of immigrants, according to a study published Wednesday.

Researchers from the University of California at Irvine, and Princeton University found that even in Southern California, which counts the nation's largest Spanish-speaking population, third-generation Americans are rarely fluent in their immigrant ancestors' native tongue.

"If there's one thing that can come out of our study, it's, 'Relax, there's nothing to fear,' " said Ruben Rumbaut, a professor of sociology at the University of California, who co-authored the article in the journal Population and Development Review.

History has shown that the children of immigrants tend to abandon their native language for English, and that is also the case now among Hispanics, Rumbaut said ˜ despite a recent book by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington that argues Latinos today are different.

"People worried when the Italians and the Jews came to New York and when the Irish came before them. But the fact of the matter is ... English is not threatened in the United States today or in the world."

Factor in global economy

What's threatened, Rumbaut said, is Spanish. According to his study, the likelihood that a great-grandchild of a Mexican immigrant will speak Spanish is 3 percent. And that inevitable language loss has serious implications for lawmakers, corporate executives and educators, he said, as they debate how the English language fits into an increasingly global economy.

Massey Villarreal, the president and chief executive officer of Houston-based Precision Task Group, said he has struggled to find skilled technology workers who can speak both English and Spanish.

"I want to 'Amen' the study," said Villarreal, who is vice chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "By the time I get a third-generation American, they can no longer speak the language. And I think for us to compete in a global economy, our kids need to be bilingual."

Villarreal, whose father was born in Mexico, said he has experienced the loss of language in his family. He described himself as "99 percent fluent in Spanish" but said his writing skills fall short. And the situation is worse for his children.

"My daughter can speak Spanish," he said, "but she could not work for Halliburton and talk about doing business in Colombia. She could not negotiate a contract."

Schools in a quandary

To some who oppose bilingual education, the California study sends a troubling message.

"No one's saying that language preservation is not a noble goal," said Don Soifer, an education analyst at the conservative Lexington Institute, which supports immersing immigrant children in English-only classes. "The problem is when it comes at the expense of these kids' only opportunity to learn English."

School districts across the nation, especially those in border states, find themselves in a tricky situation. On one hand, the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 pushes immigrant children to learn English as fast as they can. At the same time, businesses struggling to compete internationally want bilingual employees.

In 1998, California led the nation in pushing English-only instruction, rather than using a bilingual program that teaches students in their native language and gradually incorporates English. Texas uses the bilingual approach, though the State Board of Education discussed moving toward an immersion, or mostly English, approach earlier this year.

Tougher high school requirements up for vote

I agree with Ed Fuller quoted below. More math and science requirements without adding new quality teachers and filling current teacher spots taken by teachers who aren't certified to teach the courses they're teaching--is problematic.
Putting the cart before the horse again. -Angela


Tougher high school requirements up for vote
Board may force students to take math their senior year.
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/09/14/14highschool.html
By Jason Embry
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, September 14, 2006

High school seniors often have some flexibility in deciding which classes to take, and many choose not to take math. But that option would disappear under a plan that the State Board of Education will consider over the next two days.

The Legislature said earlier this year that students must have four years of math and science, instead of three, to comply with the state's "recommended" graduation plan, which schools strongly encourage but do not require. Officials at the Texas Education Agency interpreted that to mean that students could continue to pick up one of those math requirements in middle school, as many students do when they take high school algebra in the eighth grade.

The education board will consider a proposal today and Friday that would take the Legislature's action one step further and require students to take a math class every year of high school, even if they get a head start with algebra in the eighth grade. In addition, the board will spell out which courses students can take to meet the new math and science requirements, and it is poised to leave out at least one previously accepted class that is not considered tough enough.

"It does raise the bar substantially for students," education agency spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe said of the proposed graduation plan, which would take effect for ninth-graders in August.

In the Austin school district, half of the students in the class that graduated in 2004 had four math credits, and a third had four science credits.

Although few dispute the need for more math and science instruction, some educators and researchers question the plan's practicality at a time when schools are facing a teacher shortage, particularly in science.

Ed Fuller, an education researcher at the University of Texas, said 25 percent of Texas science teachers and 13 percent of math teachers last year taught classes for which they were not certified, according to data that he received from the state.

Fuller said he worries that Texas is moving to the tougher requirements without taking steps to quickly attract and retain the needed teachers.

"My fear is that when we do this, we're going to create an opportunity for qualified teachers to move from less desirable schools to more desirable schools, thus exacerbating the problem we have with achievement in less-desirable schools," Fuller said.

Education board member Don McLeroy, a Republican from Bryan, said he suggested requiring four years of math in high school so students would not be rusty when they reach college. "A lot of students don't take any math at all in their senior year, and then when they get to college, they have a tough time," he said.

Cherie Brune, a senior at Crockett High School in the Austin district, earned her four credits from eighth to 11th grade, stopping after taking pre-calculus, and isn't taking a math class this year. She wants to be an occupational therapist, so she's taking anatomy and physiology and interns at a hospital. She also plays volleyball and takes Advanced Placement classes in government, economics and English.

"I take my science classes because I love it and I'm good at it," said Brune, who said she is in the top 5 percent of her class. "If I would have taken calculus, I would have spent my whole senior year worrying about whether I'm going to pass."

Schools encourage students to follow the recommended graduation plan, and most of them do. But they have the option of taking a different path that requires fewer credits.

Scores on state tests indicate that math and science are the subjects giving students the most trouble. Earlier this year, 77 percent of high school juniors passed the math section of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam, and 74 percent passed science. But 88 percent of those students passed the English section of the test, and 94 percent passed social studies.

The education board will consider requiring students who follow the recommended graduation plan to take algebra, geometry, algebra II and at least one upper-level class such as pre-calculus, calculus or statistics, Ratcliffe said.

In science, students would need biology, chemistry, physics and one other lab-based science, such as astronomy, engineering or an advanced course in physics, chemistry or biology. They no longer would get graduation credit for a less-rigorous class called integrated physics and chemistry.

The board also will consider allowing students to take computer science to fulfill a math or science requirement.

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce vouched for the proposed course choices Wednesday.

In health care, "we face long-term challenges in recruiting enough medical technicians, administrators and particularly nurses," said Dr. Norman Chenven, CEO of Austin Regional Clinic and chairman of the chamber's math/science task force. "Our future work force must be ready."

With the new math and science requirements, students would need 26 credits to graduate under the recommended plan, instead of 24. Ratcliffe said that most schools have at least seven classes a day, so they would not need to expand the school day. But the requirements could make it more difficult to squeeze in electives such as band and agriculture.

Another concern is how much taxpayers would have to spend to add school lab space to meet the requirements. The cost is difficult to estimate because science programs differ from school to school, Ratcliffe said.

Austin school district Superintendent Pat Forgione supports the proposed requirements but said he would like to see a phase-in of the science requirements so schools can recruit and train more physics teachers. "When you set expectations and you build a system that supports children, they can do it," Forgione said. "But again, it might take resources."

jembry@statesman.com; 445-3654

Changes in class?

Current and proposed requirements for students to graduate under the recommended high school plan:

Current plan

Math: algebra, algebra 2 and geometry

Science: biology and two other courses

Proposed plan

Math: algebra, algebra 2, geometry and an upper-level course

Science: biology, chemistry, physics and one other lab-based class


Find this article at:
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/09/14/14highschool.html

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Immigration no threat to English use in U.S.: study

On conservative talk radio, they express concern over the so-called "reconquista." It's not something I hear in my circles and I'm in Mexican American Studies! This rhetoric is clearly about boundary maintenance and stoking the fear of whites and others in order to promote reactionary policies. Studies like the one mentioned should help quell such concerns. -Angela

Wed Sep 13, 12:46 AM ET
U.S. citizens concerned that Latino immigrants will
have them singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in
Spanish can rest easy, according to an academic study
published on Wednesday.

A report in the Population and Development Review
found that far from threatening the dominance of
English, most Latin American immigrants to the United
States lose their ability to speak Spanish over the
course of a few generations.

The study by sociologists Frank Bean and Ruben Rumbaut
of the University of California, Irvine, and Douglas
Massey from Princeton, drew on two surveys
investigating adaptation by immigrant communities in
California and south Florida.

It concluded that by the third generation, most
descendants of immigrants are "linguistically dead" in
their mother tongue.

"Based on an analysis of language loss over the
generations, the study concludes that English has
never been seriously threatened as the dominant
language in America, nor is it under threat today,"
the researchers said.

"Although the generational life expectancy of Spanish
is greater among Mexicans in Southern California than
other groups, its demise is all but assured by the
third generation," it added.

Third-generation immigrants are American-born with
American-born parents, but with three or four
foreign-born grandparents.

The study, which also included some data from
immigrant groups from Asian countries, weighs into a
polarizing debate in the United States on the
desirability, or otherwise, of linguistic assimilation
for immigrant minorities.

Differences flared earlier this year when a group of
Latino and Caribbean artists recorded a version of the
"The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish, prompting
condemnation from some public figures including
President George W. Bush.

"The national anthem ought to be sung in English,"
Bush said of the version, dubbed "Nuestro Himno" by
the artists. "And I think people who want to be
citizens of this country ought to learn it in
English."

Monday, September 11, 2006

National School Testing Urged

This is an interesting push given the opposition throughout the nation to NCLB. -Angela
National School Testing Urged
Gaps Between State, Federal Assessments Fuel Call for Change
By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 3, 2006; A01

Many states, including Maryland and Virginia, are reporting student proficiency rates so much higher than what the most respected national measure has found that several influential education experts are calling for a move toward a national testing system.

The growing talk of national testing and standards comes in the fifth year of the No Child Left Behind era. That federal law sought to hold public schools accountable for academic performance but left it up to states to design their own assessments. So the definition of proficiency -- what it means for a student to perform at grade level -- varies from coast to coast.

Maryland recently reported that 82 percent of fourth-graders scored proficient or better in reading on the state's test. The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as "the nation's report card," show 32 percent of Maryland fourth-graders at or above proficiency in reading.

Virginia announced last week that 86 percent of fourth-graders reached that level on its reading test, but the NAEP data show 37 percent at or above proficiency.

Some experts say it's time to be more clear about how well American schoolchildren are doing.

"The more discontented the public is with confusing and dumbed-down standards, the more politically feasible it will be to create national standards of achievement," said Diane Ravitch, a New York University professor who was an assistant U.S. education secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

The political obstacles are formidable, including a long tradition of local control over public education. But the approaching presidential campaign, a pending debate over congressional reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law and the wide gaps between assessments have raised hopes among proponents that the issue will gain steam. Some say gradual steps toward a national system would be better than none.

A recent study by Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, found that states regularly inflate student achievement. In 12 states studied, the percentage of fourth-graders proficient in reading climbed by nearly two percentage points a year, on average.

The NAEP (pronounced "Nape") data show a decline on average in the percentage who were proficient over the same period, Fuller said.

Another Fuller-led study found only three states -- Massachusetts, Missouri and South Carolina -- with proficiency standards that come close to NAEP's. (A similar rating by the journal Education Next showed that D.C. school standards have been stringent. It showed 14 percent of D.C. elementary school children reading proficiently on the D.C. scale and 11 percent on NAEP's.)

Unlike state tests, which are used to help rate public schools and measure achievement of all students in certain grades, NAEP has a more limited mission. It tests selected pools of students in key subject areas to produce data on long-term educational trends.

NAEP standards were designed to establish what students ought to know to do well in the next grade and beyond, said Mark D. Musick, former president of the Southern Regional Education Board, who helped draft them. State standards, he said, more typically reflect what teachers say are the levels good students reach in their classes.

Although classroom experience varies across the country, Musick said, what students should know to be proficient in Algebra I is clear to most educators, and a national test would help set that standard.

The argument over national standards splits both major political parties. Many Republicans defend each state's right to set its own standards, but the Bush administration includes advocates for a stronger federal role.

No Child Left Behind, which President Bush signed into law in 2002, struck a balance: It required a major expansion of state testing programs but left standard-setting authority to the states.

Many Democrats supported President Bill Clinton's effort in the 1990s to encourage national standards, which was blocked by a Republican-led Congress. Other Democrats, particularly those allied with teachers unions, oppose judging schools by standardized tests.

Charles E. Smith, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP, said many state officials tell him they are moving toward the national benchmarks.

A senior Maryland education official, for instance, said the state's standards are aligned with some of the NAEP benchmarks. Some, he said, but not all.

"The gaps will generate differences in performance," said Ronald A. Peiffer, Maryland's deputy superintendent for academic policy. "If NAEP were the national test to which all states taught and tested, then there would be no gaps, and I would expect Maryland students to do much better on NAEP."

Last week, the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation released a report from several experts, including advisers to Republican and Democratic administrations, that outlined ways to move toward national standards.

First, the federal government could order a new national testing program. The report said that surely would raise standards but would be unlikely to win congressional approval. Second, Washington could fund an expanded, voluntary national testing system. The report said that probably would raise standards and could be passed.

Third, states could build on efforts to share test items among themselves. That would be less likely to raise standards but politically feasible, the report said. Fourth, the federal government could take steps to ensure that state standards and test results could be easily compared with one another and with NAEP.

The experts in the report include Texas lawyer Sandy Kress and former deputy U.S. education secretary Eugene W. Hickok, both key education advisers to Bush, as well as Ravitch and former Clinton advisers Michael Cohen and Andrew J. Rotherham.

Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Fordham Foundation, a former Reagan administration official and one of the architects of the NAEP standards in 1990, said creating a national test would be difficult. "But I think it's a manageable hurdle, especially with presidential leadership," he said.

"There's an assumption around that national standards are political suicide even if they make educational sense," Finn said. "We need to bust through that."

Musick said he believes the best way to introduce national tests would be in a few high school subjects, such as first- and second-year algebra.

Some educators see comparisons with NAEP as unrealistic. Gerald W. Bracey, an educational psychologist who writes frequently on testing, noted that 1996 NAEP results found only 30 percent of fourth-graders to be proficient or better in science, even though an international study that year ranked American fourth-graders third in science among 26 nations.

Others want to cut back on standardized testing entirely.

Deborah Meier gained fame for starting schools in low-income areas of New York City's Manhattan that had experts rate students by viewing their schoolwork and discussing it with them. The schools did not rely on standardized tests. Instead of a national test, Meier said, the country should adopt "a combination of in-depth local instruments, independent review of schools and student work."

She also said there is value in limited testing to sample student progress.

Skeptics of national testing have long noted the influence of politics on proficiency standards. Put simply, how many kids will voters allow to score below proficiency? Some policymakers are tempted to keep standards low so that schools will look successful; others seek to set them high to spur schools to improve.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

U.S. education chief backs panel's call for college reforms

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was in Austin this past weekend. She provides more detail on what the DOE wants with respect to higher education accountability. She's calling for increased needs-based financial aid, but "any increase in financial aid would be linked to greater information disclosure by colleges and new measures intended to enhance quality and contain ever-rising higher education costs."

-Angela


U.S. education chief backs panel's call for college reforms
Margaret Spellings, visiting Austin, supports financial aid boost, increased accountability

By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Monday, September 11, 2006

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, visiting Austin over the weekend, all but endorsed a special panel's sweeping recommendations to increase financial aid for college students, measure student learning with standardized tests and require colleges to disclose data on graduation rates, spending and other matters.

Spellings, in town to address community leaders at a luncheon and attend the football game between the University of Texas and Ohio State University, said that none of the panel's recommendations had given her pause, including a much-criticized proposal to create a national database for tracking individual students' progress through higher education. She said she was prepared to seek a significant increase in the federal government's $80 billion annual outlay for financial aid, provided that colleges and universities become more trans- parent about their operations.

The remarks were the most detailed Spellings has offered publicly on the recommendations since the Commission on the Future of Higher Education issued the last in a series of draft reports a month ago. A final report with only minor changes is expected shortly, and Spellings said she plans to outline a plan for acting on the recommendations at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 26.

"I think the commission's work obviously was high quality, very much on point," she said. "It did exactly what it was supposed to do, and that is frame the big issues and precipitate discussion and interest. I consider this kind of the beginning of the beginning of all the discussion on higher education. And it's high time and overdue."

Spellings formed the commission a year ago in an effort to improve the affordability, accessibility and consumer friendliness of higher education. She named Charles Miller, a Houston investor and former chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, to lead the panel. A friend of President Bush's, Miller was something of a mentor to Spellings when she served as Bush's education adviser during his term as governor of Texas.

Miller, who accompanied Spellings in Austin, said he took issue with some leaders of private colleges and universities who have criticized the report, especially a provision calling for a national "unit record" database to track students' progress and thereby hold schools more accountable for fulfilling their educational mission. Critics say such a system would endanger students' privacy.

Miller and Spellings rejected that argument, asserting that names and Social Security numbers would be protected. Miller said private colleges "are afraid of transparency, and yet they take a huge amount of federal money. What do they have to hide? A private college doesn't have any more right to that data than the government does."

Spellings said the database would help assess higher education outcomes, because current records only track first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students. The proposed database would also track cross-state transfer students and returning students.

"That's fewer and fewer learners in America," she said, referring to the growing tendency of students to transfer among institutions or suspend their studies temporarily. "What is important here is that we use information in a protected way to better manage the system and to aid parents and families. And we're not doing that now."

Of the commission's call for a significant increase in need-based financial aid, Spellings said, "Don't look for me on September 26th to give a specific amount. Obviously, I hope that we will find ways to do more. And obviously, this is going to be a discussion that we'll ultimately have with Congress."

But any increase in financial aid would be linked to greater information disclosure by colleges and new measures intended to enhance quality and contain ever-rising higher education costs — "all of the sorts of things you would expect public policymakers to ask," she said.

The U.S. Education Department might be able to overhaul other aspects of the financial aid system without congressional approval. Making the lengthy federal aid application shorter and simpler, as the commission recommended, is a case in point.

"That's one of the things that the commission has recommended that I can certainly take action on administratively," Spellings said.

She expressed support for the commission's recommendation that higher education institutions measure student learning. Various standardized tests are intended to assess the growth of learning during a student's time in college. An early draft by the commission called for states to require such testing, but in response to criticism that the panel was being too intrusive, the final draft says they simply "should" measure learning.

"Is it appropriate and right and righteous to ask, 'What value was added for the tens of thousands of dollars invested by parents and families and the government — federal, state and local?' You bet," Spellings said.

The education secretary said it's important to remember that the federal government is but one player in higher education.

"We need to inspire and spur innovation and effort from the private sector and from states and localities as well," she said. "I'm very encouraged by the flavor of that in the commission's report. I do not want to be — and I'm pretty sure my successors would feel the same way — the national czarina of higher education in America."

rhaurwitz@statesman.com; 445-3604

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/09/11/11spellings.html

Latino Students Receive Less Financial Aid for Higher Ed

The evidence is mounting that we're headed toward an economic crisis if we don't alter this trend (see other posts from today). -Angela

Latino Students Receive Less Financial Aid for Higher Ed
by Marisa Trevino, http://latinalista.blogspot.com/
September 1, 2006

An interesting survey in a recent study conducted by USA Today found that financial aid at public flagship universities aren’t keeping pace with tuition increases.

Though tuition increased by about 34 percent, the increase in aid only amounted to 17 percent.

According to Jamie Merisotis, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a Washington D.C. think tank, the findings are especially troubling because it indicates that the ability to pay is eroding – especially among the low-income students.

That’s an interesting point since Latino students have always had to struggle with the high cost of education – even with financial aid.

Among all the ethnicities, Latinos receive the lowest average amount of financial aid awarded—by type and source of aid.

In a breakdown found at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund , Latinos were found to receive:
the least financial aid ($5,999) of any ethnic group.
Sector: Latinos received the least federal aid ($4,644) and the least non-federal aid ($3,328) of any ethnic group.
Grants: Latinos received the smallest grant awards ($3,486) for their education of any ethnic group. Latinos received the smallest federal grants ($2,113) of any ethnic group, except whites, and received by far the smallest non-federal grants ($3,017) of any ethnic group.
Loans: Latinos received larger loans ($4,168) than African Americans ($4,070) or Asian/Pacific Islanders ($4,073).
Work-Study: Latinos received the lowest work-study awards ($1,152) of any ethnic group.
“Other aid”: Latinos received higher awards ($4,527) than African Americans ($4,147), but less than whites ($5,070) or Asian/Pacific Islanders ($5,364). This disparity is consistent in “other” federal aid ($6,047) and non-federal aid ($3,475).
So, today’s news that there is even less money to help students realize their suenos for the future is doubly worse for Latino students.

And to think some would have us believe that Latino students get preferential treatment when it comes to higher education.

Schools rising to meet needs

All of these data help put the recent massive mobilizations in Dallas in perspective. Steve Murdock, our state demographer indicates the following about demographic trends: "And state demographics show that Hispanics in Texas, on average, are a full decade younger than the state's Anglos. (Blacks fall near the middle, and figures for Asians are not available.) It's not just that Hispanics are having more kids – it's that a much greater percentage of Hispanics are having kids now....while Hispanics now make up 36 percent of the state's total population, they account for nearly half of its infants."

"Dallas ISD enrollment grew by 30,000 students, to 160,000 during the 1990s.

"First it was Dallas. ... Now it's the inner-ring suburbs, places like Garland and Irving and Grand Prairie," Mr. Harner said. "In a couple of years, it's going to be McKinney and Carrollton-Farmers Branch and Rockwall ..."

More school construction in different places is what's needed.

-Angela



Schools rising to meet needs

Influx of Hispanics driving construction in aging neighborhoods
08:03 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 5, 2006

By ANDREW D. SMITH / The Dallas Morning News
Daugherty Elementary School sits on Miller Road in Garland amid a forest of 50-year-old bungalows. For decades, its 800 seats sufficed to serve the whole neighborhood, but no longer.

These days, with nearly 1,300 elementary-school-age children living right around the school, the Garland school district must bus hundreds of them elsewhere.

New houses? No, new Texans.

Old schools are overflowing – and school districts are building – in many of the region's aging neighborhoods, thanks largely to the influx of Hispanic families, which tend to be larger and younger than their black, Asian and Anglo counterparts.

"It's a classic American story. Immigrants always have higher fertility rates than natives. The Irish did. The Germans did. The Italians did. And the Eastern Europeans did," said Steve Murdock, the state demographer of Texas.

"The differences have always disappeared in two or three generations, and I'd expect them to in this case. But until that happens, school districts should probably anticipate more construction costs than they otherwise would."

U.S. census data and studies released by Dr. Murdock's office show that in Texas, Hispanic women have an average of three children, while Anglo women have an average of two. Black women average 2.25 children. Figures for Asian women in Texas are not available, though the national average is 1.9.

And state demographics show that Hispanics in Texas, on average, are a full decade younger than the state's Anglos. (Blacks fall near the middle, and figures for Asians are not available.) It's not just that Hispanics are having more kids – it's that a much greater percentage of Hispanics are having kids now.

Size and age matter
These two phenomena – the size and age of Hispanic families – explain why school demographics are changing far faster than the overall numbers.

In Dallas County, the total number of Hispanics increased 26 percent from 2000 to 2005, but the number of Hispanic students enrolled in Dallas County school districts jumped 35 percent.

In just those five years, percentages of Hispanic students jumped from 27 to 37 in the Garland ISD, 46 to 57 in the Grand Prairie ISD and 45 to 61 in the Irving ISD. And the trend will continue, because while Hispanics now make up 36 percent of the state's total population, they account for nearly half of its infants.

"The fertility rate alone is slightly more than 50 percent higher, but the other factors are probably just as important," said Dr. Murdock, who went on to highlight the 10-year age gap.

"In demographic terms, that's a world of difference," he said.

Imelda and Leoncio Zavala happily typify the trend.

Mr. Zavala works for a window company. His wife works from their Garland home and keeps an eye on the couple's three daughters, two of whom go to Daugherty.

Mr. and Mrs. Zavala say they live in a quiet and pleasant neighborhood, and aside from their disappointment that Garland now allows some alcohol sales, they're happy with the city.

As for the school district: "They try their best to educate our kids. The teachers really seem to care," Mrs. Zavala said. "Garland is a nice place to live."

Other factors
There are, to be sure, other factors driving school construction, even in established neighborhoods.

Developers have squeezed in new houses here and there. Landlords have several families sharing some single-family homes. Development elsewhere can change school attendance zones. But changing demographics are a bigger consideration, demographers say, in districts such as Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Irving and Richardson.

Surging student numbers in Garland's older areas helped necessitate expansions at elementary schools including the aging Davis and Cooper. This summer alone, the Garland district expanded four more.

With other old neighborhoods changing, further expansions are likely.


MELANIE BURFORD / DMN
Classrooms are being built onto Roach Elementary School in Garland as surging student numbers in the city's older areas necessitate expansions.
"The issue is how ... [the neighborhoods] are going to transition," said Marvin Roden, an administrative assistant who projects Garland enrollment. "Are they going to transition into higher-density families or into families that are still low in the numbers of people they have per household?"

Adding on
Administrators across North Texas are asking similar questions. They are also building lots of classrooms in unexpected places.

In 2003, voters in the Grand Prairie district approved an $86 million bond package. The plan was to build three elementary schools near new developments in the southern end of town, but the district wound up building one in and one near central Grand Prairie, where student numbers shot up despite a lack of new construction. The third is being built now, in the south.

"In many housing units where you may have had two kids per housing unit, you are now seeing far more children per housing unit," said Sue Harris, the district's executive director of planning.

Also Online
The changing classroom (.pdf)

En español

The trend has extended deep into some suburbs.

"We have a couple of schools that have been impacted," said Brant Buck, the Lewisville district's assistant superintendent for student services.

"They were the second- and third-oldest schools in the district. By adding an addition and extensive renovations, we were able to continue to serve the neighboring population."

Lewisville ISD has added about 250 seats to Central Elementary, built Lillie Jackson Early Childhood Center for pre-kindergarten programs and is rebuilding an elementary school to add a couple hundred seats.

Other districts have done much more.

The Dallas district has built several schools to serve older neighborhoods that suddenly produced record student numbers, said Dennis Harner, an Austin-based demographer who has worked with 75 school districts, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Garland, Grand Prairie, Rockwall, McKinney and Red Oak.

Most of the Dallas construction took place around Love Field and in the Five Points area of northeast Dallas.

Officials in area districts, while acknowledging the importance of family size, say the population influx is just one of several growth drivers.

"We've built three new schools over the past five years," said Whit Johnstone, the Irving district's director of planning, evaluation and research.

"One of those schools was needed, primarily, because of increasing family density in the southern part of town. The other schools had more to do with new construction."

Anglo numbers fall
State figures show that while hundreds of thousands of Anglos moved to the Dallas area in the last decade, the number of Anglo students in area public schools declined.

Texas Education Agency figures show that in 1995, there were 393,875 Anglo students attending 65 school districts around Dallas and Fort Worth. In 2005, the number was 393,385. Black student enrollment simultaneously climbed 40,000, to 179,410, while Asian student enrollment grew 20,000, to 47,443.

In those same years, the number of Hispanic students more than doubled to 324,438, agency figures show. The growth in Hispanic student numbers accounted for 70 percent of enrollment growth in the region over that decade.

"Excepting very unusual places like Highland Park, there are two types of Dallas-area districts: those where immigrant family size is currently a big issue and places where it will soon be a big issue," Mr. Harner said.

Dallas ISD enrollment grew by 30,000 students, to 160,000 during the 1990s.

"First it was Dallas. ... Now it's the inner-ring suburbs, places like Garland and Irving and Grand Prairie," Mr. Harner said. "In a couple of years, it's going to be McKinney and Carrollton-Farmers Branch and Rockwall ...

"Districts like that should be ready to see more children per house than they've ever seen before, and they should be ready to build a lot of new classrooms to accommodate them."

E-mail asmith@dallasnews.com

AVERAGE NUMBER OF CHILDREN PER WOMAN
U.S.
Anglo 1.9
Asian 1.9
Black 2.2
Hispanic 2.7

Texas*
Anglo 2.0
Black 2.3
Hispanic 3.1

*Asian fertility rates were not calculated for Texas

SOURCES: 2000 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Texas State Data Center

Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/education/stories/090506dnmetmoreschools.33d50a2.html