A controversy over the merits of ethnic-studies courses in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District and how to identify disabilities in English-language learners were two of the hottest topics at Learning the Language in 2010, according to a ranking of the amount of web traffic that blog posts on those topics received.
A post about Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne’s campaign to shut down ethnic-studies courses in Tucson Unified School District was Learning the Language’s most clicked-on post during 2010. Horne, who leaves his job as Arizona’s chief state school officer to become Arizona’s attorney general in January, views the courses as anti-American while administrators in Tucson Unified say they help to make the curriculum relevant for Mexican-American students. I visited the school district in September and wrote a story for EdWeek about the controversy.
The issue will likely get more attention in January because on the last day of this month, a law goes into effect that bans the teaching of ethnic-studies courses in Arizona that are designed for a particular ethnic group or promote ethnic solidarity among a particular group. Arizona’s new chief state school officer, John Huppenthal, a Republican, criticized the ethnic-studies courses in Tucson during his campaign for his new post, so it’s likely he’ll take the same position as Horne has that the courses in Tucson violate the new state law. Back in October, Tucson Unified teachers filed a lawsuit in a federal court challenging the new law.
For the past few years, discussions about how best to serve English-language learners who may also have disabilities have gotten a lot of readership on this blog and that proved to be true also this year. With each year, the field seems to produce more resources to address this issue, but it’s still a thorny one.
Two of the most-read posts for 2010 were actually published in 2008, showing that educators explore some of the same issues from year to year. One of the popular 2008 posts is about what research says about giving help to ELLs by having teachers “push in” to the classroom, or assist them while they are in their regular classes, or having teachers “pull out” students, or serve them in separate special classes. The other well-read 2008 post discusses the nuanced differences in meaning between the “integration” and “assimilation” of immigrants.
Toward the end of this year, the topic that received the most readership on this blog was the fate of the DREAM Act, which if it had been approved by the U.S. Congress, would have provided a path to legalization for some of the undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools each year. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the act, but the U.S. Senate did not.
Here is a list of the top-ten most-clicked-on posts at this blog in 2010, ranked in order of popularity.
Horne to Tucson Schools: Funds at Risk Over Ethnic Studies
Study Explores How Best to Identify ELLs With Disabilities
Research on Push-In Versus Pull-Out (2008)
ELL Civil Rights Probes Span From Coast to Coast
What Duncan’s Speech on Foreign Languages Didn’t Say
Feds Add New Categories for Civil Rights Reporting
Immigrant Integration, or Assimilation? (2008)
U.S. Reps. Push for Foreign-Language Teaching in ESEA
Study: How One School Carried Out RTI for ELLs Badly
House Passes DREAM Act; Senate Vote Expected
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.