Educators look to grow with expanding Hispanic demographic

Part 102 of 101 in the series Educating America

By Mary C. Tillotson |

Hispanics have become a majority in Texas schools, and the trend has educators discussing how to meet their needs — specifically regarding the language barrier.

Should students be immersed in English? Or should they be taught in Spanish until they learn English?

Heather Harding, executive director of Education Consortium for Research and Evaluation, sends her two children to a language immersion charter school in Washington, D.C.

“I think that people really misread the political feelings on this. It felt like, ‘We’re going to teach kids in their home language, when are they ever going to learn English?’ The research lags in this area. It’s just now getting out. The brain responds to two kinds of language pretty easily, especially if you get to the kids young, so you shouldn’t worry about having English earlier,” she said.

Language immersion programs, however, are more difficult to implement and may require two teachers per classroom, she said.

Harding and Choice Media also discussed problems of statistics in assessing Philadelphia’s charter schools, the abysmal education in juvenile prisons, a Texas district borrowing $775 million to spend about $85,000 per student and a New Hampshire charter school bill.

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