The American Prospect


Colorado, Bilingual Education and Civil Rights

As one Colorado district cuts back its biliteracy program, questions are raised about possible civil rights violations. 

The national teacher shortage has hit Colorado hard. Since 2000, the state’s average teacher pay has dipped 15 percent, leaving Colorado ranking fifth among the lowest teacher salaries in the country. Moreover, school districts in low-income urban and rural districts have even more difficulty attracting highly qualified teachers. So at Adams 14, a school district nestled north of Denver in Commerce City, Colorado, where the majority of students are low-income and lack fluency in English, school administrators have compensated for the shortage in part by partnering with the University of Colorado’s BUENO Center, which offers degrees and certificates in bilingual education programs at a reduced cost.

The center also advocates for culturally and linguistically diverse students, families, and educators and helps train the district’s elementary school teachers to instruct English-language learners using an English-Spanish biliteracy program instituted three years ago in the wake of complaints about how the district interacted with Latino parents.

But Dr. Javier Abrego, the Adams 14 superintendent, now intends to hit the “pause button” to re-evaluate the program, citing a shortage of qualified teachers as one of the reasons when he first announced the decision last winter. But teachers, parents and local residents have expressed concern that the real goal is to slowly phase out Spanish in district classrooms—where more than half of the students are not native English speakers—as administrators continue on what some residents see as a crusade to curtail a biliteracy program that nowserves students in kindergarten through third grade. . . . read more


"Protect Kids, Not Guns": Maryland Teenagers Skip School to Demand Action

High school students protested on Capitol Hill and at the White House in solidarity with the victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

Note: This is a piece I co-wrote with another Prospect intern, Mark Ossolinski.

Several hundred Washington-area high school students gathered outside the U.S. Capitol and the White House on Wednesday to protest gun violence and urge lawmakers to enact gun control legislation in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The students, who came from a handful of public high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, north of Washington, skipped the better part of their school day to take Metro’s Red Line down to the U.S. Capitol. There, following several minutes of chants of “Enough is enough” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go,” they were greeted by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District. . . . read more