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Saturday, October 6, 2012
discrimination complaints filed with feds in districts failing to effectively communicate with ELL parents
Schools Falter at Keeping ELL Families in the Loop By Lesli A. Maxwell As thousands of communities—especially in the South—became booming gateways for immigrant families during the 1990s and the early years of the new century, public schools struggled with the unfamiliar task of serving the large numbers of English-learners arriving in their classrooms. Instructional programs were built from scratch. Districts had to train their own teachers to teach English to non-native speakers or recruit teachers from elsewhere. School staff members had to figure out how to communicate with parents who spoke no English. But even as immigration has slowed or stopped in many places, and instructional programs for English-learners have matured, serving immigrant families and their children remains a work in progress in many public schools, especially those in communities that are skeptical, or sometimes hostile, to the newcomers. One of the biggest challenges, educators and advocates said, is communicating effectively with parents who don't speak English—an issue that, in part, has brought recent complaints of discrimination against Latino students and their families to two large districts in North Carolina and one in Louisiana.