Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Immigrant student faces language, social hurdles

Older students, meaning new kids in middle and high school, have a harder time learning English than the little kids do. Learning to live here is a challenge, let's hope they stay in school and don't drop out. - - Donna Poisl

by Alexander Russo

Under No Child Left Behind, schools are under more pressure not just to teach kids English, but to raise achievement in core academic subjects. For older students, the challenge is greater.

On the surface, Jafet Melendez looks pretty much like any other 8th-grader at Pulaski Elementary in Bucktown. He wears an Old Navy hoodie and high-top sneakers nearly every day. He likes video games, McDonalds, and the Latin-flavored rap music called reggaet├│n. He has a cell phone—and a pierced tongue, thanks to his stepfather, Sergio, a factory worker and part-time tattoo artist. The desk near his bed at the family home is covered with items most teenage boys collect—action figures, tough-guy sunglasses and CDs.
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