Education Letter to the Editor

Dealing With Immigration in America’s Heartland

May 24, 2005 2 min read

To the Editor:

Kudos for exploring the issue of the growth of immigrant populations in the heartland and the impact that is having on public schools (“Newcomers Bring Change, Challenge to Region,” May 4, 2005.) This is an issue the state of Nebraska confronted in the mid-1990s, as new meatpacking plants brought job opportunities to rural areas of the state.

Nancy Rowch, the director of the National Origin Project at the state department of education, had a large number of schools requesting help in addressing the needs of their new students. Though she traveled extensively and consulted with school officials by telephone, the needs outweighed what she could accomplish on her own.

Ms. Rowch asked the Region 7 Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma what it could do to help her meet the increasing demand for help in her state. The center turned to its partner, Litton PRC, since acquired by Northrop Grumman, for a solution that would meet the needs of a widely dispersed audience and could be updated easily and accessed anytime, anywhere.

The result was the Nebraska Limited English Proficient KnowledgeBase, an online tool designed around the U.S. Department of Education office for civil rights’ requirements for programs for English-language learners. As time passed, an increasing number of visitors to the online tool came from outside Nebraska, leading to its evolution into the English Language Learner KnowledgeBase.

Since its inception, the English Language Learner KnowledgeBase has grown into a nationwide resource for the development of programs serving students who have limited proficiency in English. The Title III directors in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have served as the technical-advisory group for ongoing development and maintenance on the KnowledgeBase.

The English Language Learner KnowledgeBase offers free resources for education professionals.

Tamara Keefer

Northrop Grumman Information Technology

Indianapolis, Ind.

To the Editor:

I feel it is important for me to comment on your article “Newcomers Bring Change, Challenge to Region.”

Decades ago, there were no English-language-learning classes for non-English-speaking children. When immigrants entered this country, they learned English on their own. Now taxpayer money is being spent on English-as-a-second-language programs, bilingual teachers, and translators.

Meanwhile, programs for the gifted and talented and vocational training are suffering. Is the lack of money to fund them due to the push for teaching English to immigrants?

Randi Portnoy

Jericho, N.Y.