How has the need for, and implementation of, Bilingual Education in Hartford, Connecticut changed over the years?
Why does this deserve to be researched?
In October of 2010, I was placed at McDonough Expeditionary Learning School (MELS) for my classroom placement as part of a requirement for my Education 200: Analyzing Schools class. I was very eager to work with Chris Gentile, a recent Teach for America graduate at the time, and felt that I could bring a new perspective to his 6th grade classroom; as a product of the Hartford Public School system, I felt that I could truly relate to the students at McDonough and serve as a valuable asset to Mr. Gentile in the classroom. During my first few weeks at McDonough, I found myself in a very difficult position: although I wanted to spend my time helping the students in the classroom with science projects and other assignments, I found myself being used mostly as a translator between Mr. Gentile and four [transfer] students who were in his homeroom – Maria, Josue, Valializ and Reyna Rivera. These students had recently moved to Hartford from Puerto Rico and were immediately enrolled into a Hartford school by their mother, who did not want to see them fall behind in their academics.
The Vice Principal at MELS at the time, Dirk Olmstead explained that the school no longer had an official ELL program (English Language Learners) but rather, the Rivera children spent their fourth period in a class for students with developmental and behavioral problems. In this class, typically taught by a member of the McDonough school support staff, students received specialized attention with their classwork. Many times the class was taught by a bilingual staff-person; however, this was not always the case. I realized immediately that this arrangement was problematic – the Rivera children were not “bad” kids, they simply did not understand a word of English.
Under No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Title I and Title III, school districts must offer Educational programs for limited English proficient (LEP) students/English language learners (ELLs).The arrangement at MELS shows a shift in position on the importance of Bilingual education [and the ELL program] among Hartford Public School Administration– which is evident due to the lack of funding for Bilingual education programs, according to several school administrators. This issue is important to me because I was a product of ELL instruction. At home, my primary language was Spanish and I found the ELL program to be my saving grace at school, because I was able to learn English in a relatively short amount of time, I was able to do well both inside and outside of the classroom. I saw first-hand the many pains that students such as Reyna and Josue experienced in Mr. Gentile’s class, labeled as delinquents because they could not sit still and do any of the work. I truly believe that this is an issue of keystone importance affecting non-English speaking children enrolled in Hartford Public Schools today. I am interested in exploring Hartford Public Schools, as well as, independent schools such as La Escuelita Bilingual School (formerly Ann Street School).
Using the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), JSTOR – the “digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources”, Google Scholar, the Trinity College Library catalog, I searched for key terms using the following words and phrases:
- “Bilingual Education & Hartford, CT”
- “Bilingual Education in Hartford, CT
- “ELL programs in Hartford, CT”
- “Bilingual Education as Special Education”
- “Bilingual Education in Hartford Public Schools”
Although these searches bring up some good literature for this topic, it seems that the literature is limited. I will need to conduct interviews with teachers or administrators that are familiar with HPS policy trends in the specific field of Bilingual education. I would also like to conduct interviews with bilingual students who attend Hartford schools to gain insight into their experiences at their respective schools.
Bibliography of Possible Sources:
Ardinger, Ashley. “English Language Learners: an analysis of policy and achievement over time.” (2012).
“Bilingual Programs Increasing in City.” The Hartford Courant (1923-1984) [Hartford, Conn.] 19 Aug. 1973,12I. ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1923 – 1984). ProQuest. Trinity College, Hartford, CT. 4 Mar. 2009 http://www.proquest.com/
Cohen, Linda M. Meeting the needs of gifted and talented minority language students: Issues and practices. No. 8. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, 1988.
Gersten, Russell, and Robert T. Jimenez. “A delicate balance: Enhancing literature instruction for students of English as a second language.” The Reading Teacher 47.6 (1994): 438-449.
Papirno, Elisa. “Puerto Rican Children Getting Bilingual Education at La Escuelita. ” The Hartford Courant (1923-1984) [Hartford, Conn.] 28 May 1973,33. ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1923 – 1984). ProQuest. Trinity College, Hartford, CT. 4 Mar. 2009 <http://www.proquest.com/>
Park, Sunny. “Teaching English to English Language Learners in 1960s and Today.” (2008).
Rossell, Christine H., and Keith Baker. “The educational effectiveness of bilingual education.” Research in the Teaching of English (1996): 7-74.
Torres, Karina. “Language Policies: A study of Language Ideologies in Connecticut State Policies for English Language Learners.” (2012).
Zirkel, Perry Alan. “An evaluation of the effectiveness of selected experimental bilingual education programs in Connecticut.” (1972).
Next Step: I am scheduled to meet with Jack on Monday, April 8, 2013 at 11:40am to receive feedback on my proposal.
One thought on “ED 300 Research Proposal: Bilingual Education”
Based on what you’ve written above and our discussion today, I recommend that you extract one of the following potential research questions from your ideas above to focus your research. Here are some possibilities that came to my mind while reading:
1) How did federal NCLB law change federal law regarding English-language learners’ rights to education? If you focus on this, it would be a federal – federal conflict, which you could also pursue in a grounded case study (eg. how this played out in NYC, or Connecticut).
2) How have CT laws on bilingual education shifted since the 1990s, and how has it affected student learning? (This is a state-law question, which a focus on a potential case study like Hartford).
3A) How has HPS shifted its district policies and practices on bilingual education over the past 10-20 years? See the recent HPS bilingual feasibility study at
3B) How and why have Hartford advocates for ELL students pursued district compliance with federal law? See http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-schools-investigation-0323-20130322,0,4333091.story
Search also for past stories on this topic, or even contact the appropriate person at http://www.kidscounsel.org/
4) How and why was La Escuelita created in Hartford, what was its purpose, and why is it no longer functioning? IN addition to your 1973 HCourant story you found, see also this story (without attribution) on Hispanic Hartford site:
Of course, as we discussed, you could merge one or more of these, but the goal is to identify a clearly focused RQ and appropriate sources. You’ve clearly found many interesting sources above, so I would recommend writing up a revised proposal to demonstrate your clear focus (for additional feedback).
Two additional items:
1) Individual privacy: as we discussed, it would be best to remove individuals’ names from your placement experience since they do not expect to be named on the public web.
2) Citation style: Look again at my Zotero & citation style link to choose one format, see samples of how it’s used, and create settings in Zotero to follow it.
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