It's one of the few states to grant resident-status for college tuition purposes to young immigrants who have graduated from a state high school. It is also a state that now requires intelligent design be taught as a viable theory in science classes. So far spared from the torched-earth politics of xenophobia and English-only movements, Kansas has English language learner numbers that are growing at three times the national rate and, by the year 2025, nearly 20 percent of the state's population will speak Spanish as a home or primary language. Yet, despite the increasing use of dual language,
bilingual, and multicultural instructional approaches in Kansas schools, this is also the home of Turner School District in Kansas City, where a high school principal recently suspended a 16-year-old for saying "No problema" to a friend in the hallway.
Theme: What's Next? New Trends in Language Learning
On February 3-4, 2006, the 24th Annual Conference of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages and Bilingual Educators (KATESOL/BE) will be held at Kansas State University, in Manhattan, Kansas. "The public and the media usually assume that the children we're advocating for are only immigrants," said Socorro Herrera, the conference chair for KATESOL/BE 2006, "but 80 percent of the culturally and linguistically diverse students in our public schools are documented." The registration tally just before Christmas showed that nearly 300 teachers, paraeducators, adult educators, community volunteers, teacher trainers, parents, and advocates from across the state and the surrounding midwest region had
already reserved places at the
two-day conference. "All of our sessions will address concerns of crucial importance to children, families and communities," explained Dr. Herrera. "These issues are transcendent and exist beyond the scope of today's popular mainstream political rhetoric."
In her recent statement on the Turner School District case, regarding the suspension of 16-year-old Zach Rubio for speaking Spanish, KATESOL President Dr. Della Perez noted that "it is critical to recognize that a child's language, culture, family, and community have an equal impact on the potential for educational success." She referenced research by Reyes and Halcón (2001), in stating that "one of the reasons for the high drop-out rate among CLD students in middle and high school is that the majority of educators and researcher ignore the bicultural background of CLD students and their potential for bilingualism and biliteracy as if these are inconsequential, useless appendages in the process of becoming literate."
Giving CLD Students and Families a Greater Voice
The two-day schedule for KATESOL/BE 2006 is going to provide ample opportunity for participants to heed Dr. Perez's rallying cry, from that statement on the Turner School District case: "We call upon educators across the state of Kansas to step outside their traditional roles toward purposive activism for student and family rights and the appropriateness of quality programs....we hope to engage educators in a deeper level of reform that supports, recognizes and celebrates all of our CLD students' rights to speak their native languages in school."
A Wide Array of Supporters and Collaborators
Co-hosting this year's KATESOL Conference in Manhattan, along with the KSU Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy, are:
The Riley County Family & Child Resource Center (Riley County Head Start and Early Head Start)
The Manhattan USD 383 Adult Learning Center
The KSU Modern Language Department
The KSU English Language Program
The International Student Center at K-State
The BESITOS Grants and Scholarship Programs of KSU
The KATESOL/BE 2006 Conference is sponsored by:
The K-State College of Education
The K-State Division of Continuing Education
The Midwest Equity Assistance Center
The Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy
This level of collaboration among such a broad-based coalition of supporters is unprecedented for a KATESOL event and certainly rare for any ESL/EFL conference, whether local, regional, national, or international in scope. But the current situation in Kansas demands imaginative responses and, above all else, cooperative rather than antagonistic efforts from schools, communities, educators, and all Kansans who share a vested interest in the academic success and positive life outcomes of the state's culturally and linguistically diverse students and families.
District and Building Administrators To Speak
This sense of urgency is apparent in the number of program coordinators, building administrators, and district leaders who are attending and presenting information at February's KATESOL Conference in Manhattan, Kansas. This is the first time that a full strand of sessions devoted to the needs of administrators has been part of the annual KATESOL meeting. The "Administrative Practices and ELLs" strand includes a Friday morning parent involvement workshop, a Friday afternoon symposium on "The Schooling Experience in Mexico," and the following Saturday sessions:
"Reconciling School Reform and School Responsiveness to ELLs"
Edmund T. Hamann, Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln
"Utilizing Data Analysis to Improve Instruction for ELLs"
Frank J. Vecchio, Principal, 10th & Penn Elementary School, Reading, Pennsylvania
"How to Evaluate Teachers of Second Language Learners"
Dr. Elizabeth Grassi, Assistant Professor, Regis University
"No Train, No Gain: Tips for Administrators and Coaches"
Ellen Beckley, Geri Lovelace and Lindsey Schneider, District Education Center, Kansas City Public Schools, USD 500
"Creating Culturally Perceptive Learning Communities: Understanding Systemic Change Through SIOP"
Tammy Becker, Principal, Hillcrest Elementary School
Shabina Kavimandan, Lawrence Public Schools
Click Here for Detailed Session Strands
Other session strands include:
Adult, Intensive, & Community ESL
Elementary School ESL
Secondary School ESL
Multicultural Approaches to Special Education
Bilingual Literacy & Advocacy
Second Language & ESL Methodology
Families and Children
Are Intensive English Programs on the Rebound?
In contradistinction to trends at many other colleges and universities across the United States, the intensive English language program at Kansas State University is undergoing a period of rapid growth in numbers of international scholars arriving on campus for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate academic programs. Mary Wood, ELP Director, and Jim Lewis, International Student Recruiter, have teamed to bring about a true sense of renewal at K-State, which had had to pare down its intensive English program in the aftermath of 9-11. "We kept our core faculty employed with part-time assignments in other departments on campus," explained Mary Wood, "so we were better positioned to react when international student numbers went up again." In December, two new full-time hires were added to her ESL teaching staff.
Mary Wood is collaborating with two other K-State administrators on a pre-conference institute, "Bridging Campus and Community," to present practical ideas for networking with local groups to meet the diverse needs of international students and their families. The abstract for this session includes this description:
International scholars at K-State and other colleges and universities face a number of unique challenges. For those with spouses and children, these challenges can be even greater. Institutions which establish networks of support across department and office boundaries, as well as crucial alliances with local community organizations, are prepared to meet the needs of international students and their families.
Session organizers for this institute are Maria Beebe, Assistant Director at K-State's International Student Center, Jenifer J. Chambers, Director of K-State's Study Abroad Program, and Mary Wood. This pre-conference institute will be held at the beautiful International Student Center, a 7-minute stroll across campus from the K-State Union. The Center was constructed entirely using private donations from a consortium of individuals in the Manhattan area to express their concern for and interest in international, multicultural, and multilingual exchange at the university.
Literacy, Classroom Discourse, and Brain Research
Other pre-conference institutes planned for Friday morning include:
Institute on Literacy Development for Second Language Learners, led by Dr. Kathy Escamilla, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Past President of the National Association of Bilingual Educators (NABE), and also a keynote speaker at this year’s KATESOL/BE 2006 Conference.
Institute on the Discourse of Math and Science Instruction, led by Dr. Diane Torres-Velasquez, Coordinator of the Bilingual Special Education Program at the University of New Mexico, and including training and activities which focus on the discourse of successful math and science instruction as well as awareness of stereotypes about math and science professions. Dr. Torres-Velasquez recently presented at the 2005 National Conference of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) on her research in this important area.
Institute on Applied Brain Research, led by Dr. Steve Benton, Chair and Professor of K-State's Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, and Dr. Socorro Herrera, Co-Director of K-State's Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy (CIMA Center) and KATESOL/BE 2006 Conference Chair, with sessions on applications for second language acquisition from the fields of neurobiology and neuropsychology
El Rol de la Participación de los Padres en el Exito
Another highlight at the KATESOL/BE 2006 Conference is a Friday morning workshop, in Spanish, for parents of English language learners. This workshop, "Parental Involvement in Academic Success," will be presented by Dr. Manuel Escamilla, Director of Rocky Mountain SER Head Start. The workshop is free, sponsored by the K-State CIMA Center and KATESOL. Word has gone out via listservs and media to reach parents in every community of Kansas, encouraging their attendance.
Keynote Speakers to Address Kansas Issues
On Friday evening, February 3rd, Dr. Kathy Escamilla will
deliver a keynote speech to attendees at the opening ceremony.
The following text is from Dr. Escamilla's home page on the Web site
of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Kathy Escamilla is associate professor of education in the division of social, bilingual and multicultural foundations. Dr. Escamilla's research centers on educational issues related to Spanish speaking language minority students in U.S. schools. She is specifically interested in issues related to the development of bilingualism and biliteracy in early elementary grades for this Spanish speaking population. Her recent research has also examined assessment practices and the impact of high stakes testing on these children.
In a recent article published in the Journal of Teacher Education,"Rethinking the 'Gap': High-Stakes Testing and Spanish-Speaking Students in Colorado" (Escamilla, Chavez, Vigil, 2005), Escamilla and her colleagues suggest that, when schools
give appropriate instruction to bilingual children and when
children are tested on content knowledge rather than on
English language ability, the notion of an "achievement
gap" disappears and, according to data from Colorado's
state assessments, CLD children actually outperform other
children and help their schools and districts achieve
adequate yearly progress (AYP) under "No Child Left
Dr. Escamilla's research helps to dispel the myths
behind "deficit models" which are implicit in many
instructional approaches, such as those promoted by
Ruby Payne style programs, which attempt to "save" CLD
children from the influences of their families and
parents, instead of respecting and valuing the home
culture and accommodating the needs, interests, and
prior experiences of students in designing classroom
These are the same issues and challenges facing
many Kansas communities today, and Dr. Escamilla's
KATESOL keynote will help to clarify the best practices
of instruction that facilitates literacy development
for children whose first language is not English. There
can hardly be a more pressing concern for schools
and communities today.
At Saturday's "Annual KATESOL/BE Lunch," the keynote
speaker is Melinda Lewis, Director of Policy Advocacy and Research at El Centro, Inc. She and El Centro have been honored by a Proclamation from Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, in for their successful efforts to promote legislative action resulting in the passage of HB2145, in 2004, giving in-state tuition status to Kansas immigrants who have spent at least three years in Kansas public schools, either graduated from high school or achieved a GED, and who are taking the steps to legalize their immigrant status.
According to text at the El Centro Web site:
El Centro Mission Statement
The purpose of El Centro and its subsidiaries is to create and sustain educational, social and economic opportunities for families.
El Centro Strategy Statement
We fulfill our mission by providing holistic services to families, including child care, youth tutoring and mentoring, family intervention, job training and placement, financial literacy, rental housing, home buyer education, housing construction and rehabilitation, technical assistance for entrepreneurs, and services for seniors.
El Centro Vision & Outcomes Statement
El Centro and its subsidiaries are strong, diverse, entrepreneurial asset-building social enterprises. We lead by example, helping families build assets, which put them in control of their destinies and major life choices.
What KATESOL 2006 Means for Kansas
In the context of this past summer's ruling by the Kansas
Supreme Court that forced the Kansas legislature to more
than triple state funding to Kansas schools, and stresses
at the local level in many Kansas communities, where well-intentioned school board members and district
administrators are struggling to move beyond traditional
educational approaches without giving up cherished
principles and beliefs, the 2006 Annual Conference
of Kansas TESOL, at Kansas State University, stands
clearly as a monumental organizing effort to bring
common sense and practical solutions to the challenges
of meeting the learning needs of culturally and linguistically
K-State is highly regarded throughout the
state and nationally for the ways in which the institution
serves crucial needs in a number of important areas,
from engineering to agricultural sciences, from teacher
preparation to leadership studies. This past autumn
semester, the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev gave
a public lecture at the K-State campus, attended by
overflowing crowds which had to be accommodated with
video-feeds outside McCain Hall where he spoke. Recently
retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard
B. Myers is a 1965 graduate of Kansas State University.
The essential character of a typical Kansan is someone
who does not turn and change at every moment, depending
on which way the wind is blowing. Movements, trends, and
fads will wash across the entire United States sometimes
without taking hold at all in Kansas. Enduring truths
are enough to inform the common sense solutions that
usually win out when Kansans debate issues that in
other states might tear apart the social fabric. There
are quite a few national interest groups hard at work
trying to pull Kansas lawmakers and educators in the
direction of fringe positions on issues such as immigration
or bilingual education. The Southern Poverty Law Center
has tracked activity in Kansas by hate groups associated
with the Ku Klux Klan. Lobbyists for the Federation for American
Immigration Reform (F.A.I.R.-www.fairus.org) verbally abused
and threatened Kansas legislators when HB2145 was being
debated, and have spearheaded failed efforts to overthrow
Kansas's boldly progressive immigrant student tuition law.
Ad Astra Per Aspera
Kansans respond with a positive spirit to all new
challenges. We listen attentively and sort through
information, data, and research to determine what
would be the most reasoned conclusions to make. There
is going to be a lot of new data on English language
learning, multicultural education, and international
exchange at KATESOL/BE 2006 in Manhattan, Kansas.
These are crucial areas in which Kansas educators
and all Kansans recognize their need to increase
knowledge and awareness if our state is going to
maintain economic and social growth to continue
to lead the United States through our common
sense, steady, even-handed approaches.
What looks like upheaval and chaos to others
has more of the appearance of new, positive
challenges for Kansans. "To the stars through
difficulties," the state motto, inscribed on
the state flag of Kansas, is a sentiment that
will guide our discussions, learning, sharing
of experiences, and growth at KATESOL/BE 2006,
February 3-4, at Kansas State University, in the
intellectual and spiritual heart of the state.
All Kansas children and all Kansas families will
benefit from the good work that is going to be
accomplished by those who attended the KATESOL
meeting in Manhattan and took new ideas and
renewed energy back home to share in their
communities and schools.
That energy is going to change America.
Tentative Friday Schedule
Tentative Saturday Schedule
Full List of Session Abstracts
Biographical Statements for Speakers at KATESOL/BE 2006
Online Registration Through January 27th
KSU Credit Option
Article by Robb Scott
2006 ESL MiniConference Online