Friday, December 23, 2005

Immigration puts pressure on Southern schools

The No Child Left Behind rules are making it very hard for schools with high immigrant populations to pass the tests when these children don't know English well enough. Maybe these children should be given more time before they test. Imagine if we had to take tests in a foreign language one year from now. DP

By GIL KLEIN and DANIEL GILBERT  / Media General News Service : Immigrants are showing up in places that had not experienced past immigration waves. They are arriving in cities, suburbs and rural areas alike. During the 1990s, Hispanics of school age in six states Pew Hispanic Center studied - Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee - grew from 55,199 to 232,756, a 322 percent increase.

But that tells only part of the story. Latino school enrollment in those states is projected to grow by 210 percent between 2001 and 2007 compared to 2 percent for non-Hispanic students. The study predicted that by 2007, Hispanic students will constitute 10 percent of the school-age population, compared to 4 percent in 2000.

The influx is putting pressure on schools to find teachers who can reach these students. At the same time, the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that these English-language learners must make the same progress as native English speakers.

But the big influx is not limited to the six Southern states Pew studied.

Speaking another language is not required to become a certified ESOL teacher. While most immigrants are Hispanic, speaking Spanish does not help with the polyglot of languages arriving in Southern schools.

"We have a Bengali speaker, a Chinese speaker, a Farsi speaker," said Kari Wilson an ESOL teacher at Occoquan, VA. "You need to teach children from any background."

Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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