Equity & Diversity

Spanish-Speaking Oregon Students Get Helping Hand

By Mary C. Breaden — October 30, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Oregon Department of Education is looking beyond its borders—well beyond—to encourage Spanish-speaking students to stay in high school.

Currently, 19 high schools in the state are taking part in the Oregon-Mexico Education Partnership, a program between the Mexican government and the state education department that provides students with free Spanish-language textbooks, CDs, DVDs, and an online site, covering mathematics, science, and other subjects needed to earn a diploma.

The partnership, referred to as Plaza Comunitaria, or Community Plaza, by the Oregon education department, was launched in the state in 2004, said Patrick Burk, the chief policy officer for the state superintendent’s office.

While Hispanics make up about 15 percent of the more than 560,000 students enrolled in Oregon’s public schools and are among the 55,000 students enrolled in English-as-a-second-language classes, only about 2 percent of teachers are Spanish-speaking. That imbalance can produce “a tendency for students to slip behind,” Mr. Burk said.

Mexico began making material from its national curriculum available with the signing of an agreement with the United States in 1990, and 37 other states currently offer programs similar to Oregon’s.

Oregon’s initiative is administered by the state education department, the Mexican consulate in Portland, and the Salem, Ore.-based Willamette Education Service District.

Mr. Burk said students using the Mexican curriculum “have to show that the use of the Mexican material … achieves the same standard [as that of their peers].”

Joy Peyton, a language expert and a vice president at the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics, believes the program provides a valuable way for the students to continue learning in Spanish, even as they become fluent in English.

“In an ideal world, we would see what value there is in these students’ being proficient and academically excellent in two languages. Ultimately, we would be participating in … a bilingual society,” said Ms. Peyton.

See Also

See other stories on education issues in Oregon. See data on Oregon’s public school system.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Census Prompts Push for More Indigenous School Lessons
American Indians and Alaska Natives say census numbers prove that Indigenous history should get more attention in public school classrooms.
Tim Henderson, Stateline.org
7 min read
Tatanka Gibson of the Haliwa-Saponi/Nansemond Tribal Nations leads attendees in song and dance during a gathering marking Indigenous Peoples Day at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.
Tatanka Gibson of the Haliwa-Saponi/Nansemond Tribal Nations leads attendees in song and dance during a gathering marking Indigenous Peoples Day at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke/AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion You Can't Legislate Away Black and Gay Educators and Students
Students and teachers shouldn’t see their identity as a subject so taboo that the state must ban all references to it in schools.
Rafael Walker
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of a large pencil erasing a member of a community.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Nadia Bormotova/iStock
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Do Students Have What They Need? One Survey Looks to Answer That Question
Even before the pandemic started, one state started thinking about how to understand student needs better. That plan accelerated with the virus.
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week