Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education

Boston Globe: Boston Needs to Step Up Services for ELLs

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 14, 2009 1 min read

A Boston Globe editorial follows up on a report that shows that the approach of Boston Public Schools to teaching English-language learners is widening the achievement gap at all levels between such students and native speakers of English. The dropout rate for ELLs also dramatically increased from 2003 to 2006. The editorial suggests that Boston educators should take a field trip to some smaller school districts in the state that were featured in a 2007 Rennie Center report as implementing “best practices” for ELLs.

Margaret Adams, who is a member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages, responded to the editorial with a commentary noting that many ELLs in Massachusetts don’t receive any specialized services at all to learn the language.

It wouldn’t be wise to blame the “garbled approach” in Boston to serving ELLs on the policy change approved by voters in 2002, the editorial says. That year, voters passed a ballot initiative, Question 2, that greatly curtailed bilingual education in the state. Here’s an excerpt from the editorial:

It would be tempting to blame this entire mess on a 2002 ballot initiative mandating English immersion as the primary means of instruction. Previously, schools offered a broad array of classes for students in their native languages. But the authors of the UMass study wisely chose to focus on ways to improve the current system rather than on reigniting an old political debate. Immersion can work for many students. And for those who struggle with it, the law still offers various waivers and alternatives, including opportunities for students to attend classes in their native languages.

The editorial notes that the post for the director of programs for ELLs was open for a year in Boston. The school system named a new director last week.

A theme that keeps emerging regarding education of these students in the various reports I read is the need for districtwide consistency and coordination. It’s amazing to me that even some large urban school systems that have enrolled large numbers of ELLs for decades still don’t have a strong overall plan for how to address the needs of such students.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools
Head of Lower School
San Diego, California
San Diego Jewish Academy

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read