Fort Hays State University, in Hays, Kansas, was the
site of this year's KATESOL/BE Annual Conference, with
the theme "Advocating for Language Learners in the
Era of No Child Left Behind." There were 300 attendees
this year--by far the most ever at a meeting of the Kansas
Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Languages. By comparison, last year's KATESOL Conference
was attended by 50 people.
Conference participants from all parts of the state of Kansas,
as well as across the border from Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming,
Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois,
California, Utah, Minnesota, Maryland, the District of Columbia,
Massachusetts, and even representatives from the countries
of Peru and Spain, enjoyed a line-up of keynote speakers which
will not soon be matched: Jacqueline Boyd (Haskell Indian Nations
University), Rebecca Kopriva (University of Maryland), Stephen
Krashen (University of Southern California), Joy Reid (University
of Wyoming) and Bill VanPatten (University of Illinois-Chicago).
In addition, there was a very strong--and well attended--schedule
of concurrent and poster sessions, including themes and issues related to
Pre-K to 12, adult education, migrant education, immigrant policies,
sheltered English instruction, assessment and accountability,
school-to-parent communication, and dozens of other topics
directly or indirectly connected to the educational landscape
in the United States today in the context of challenges and
frustrations posed by the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act, known as "No Child Left Behind." KATESOL and
Fort Hays were honored by the presence of Ana Garcia and Lorena Dickerson,
Program Specialists from the U.S. Department of Education, who traveled from
Washington, D.C., to conduct a morning and an afternoon overview of NCLB
as well as to answer questions about this important law.
A very important component in the overall success of KATESOL 2004
was the way in which exhibitors were integrated into the schedule. A
total of 11 exhibitors--Readers Press, Wright Group McGraw-Hill, Harcourt Achieve,
Harcourt School Publishers, Hampton-Brown, the Spanish Embassy,
Cambridge University Press, Pearson ESL, Pearson Learning Group,
Scholastic, and Glencoe-McGraw Hill--were located in two rooms
right along the way to and from most of the concurrent session rooms,
on the second floor of Rarick Hall. In addition, sessions ran 45 minutes
with 15 minutes in between each session, producing a very constant,
regular flow of visitors to the publishers booths. Also, several publishers
submitted and had proposals accepted to present their own concurrent sessions,
which were packed.
Throughout the morning, conference participants found coffee and
herbal teas, along with doughnuts and muffins, in the exhibition areas.
Later in the day, large bins filled with crushed ice, cans of pop (soda)
and bottled water were added, and in the afternoon seedless red
and white grapes. For an hour, beginning at 3:30 p.m., Stephen Krashen
was stationed at a table in one of the exhibitor rooms, selling and
autographing copies of some of his most famous texts. From 4:00 to
4:30, Janet Booth, KATESOL Conference Co-chair and Publishers Liaison,
coordinated a lively raffle of books and materials donated by all the
publishers who exhibited at the conference.
Due to the unanticipated high numbers of conference registrations,
particularly in the three weeks leading up to the event, it was necessary
to re-schedule hourly keynote speakers in the largest classroom on the
Fort Hays campus, at Albertson Hall. This was a fortuitous change, however,
because it gave everyone several opportunities throughout the day to stroll
along the sidewalk which cuts diagonally across the FHSU "Quad" between
Rarick and Albertson, and enjoy the natural beauty of the campus.
Friday evening's Opening Ceremony in Sheridan Hall's Beach/Schmidt
Performing Arts Center was attended by about 200 people who came in
early for the conference. One of the highlights of Friday evening's session
was a series of three performances by the international students of the
Hays Language Institute, co-hosts of KATESOL/BE 2004. These students--
from Korea, Japan, China and Thailand--presented lively, engaging and
very nicely executed renditions of two plays: "Goldilocks and the Three
Bears" (narrated in English and Korean) and a Japanese story, "Peach Boy"
(narrated in Japanese and English). Between the two plays was a beautiful
dance performed by Xin Xiao, of China.
At Friday's Opening Ceremony there were welcoming remarks by Fort
Hays State University President Edward H. Hammond, as well as a speech
by Kansas Commissioner of Education Andy Tompkins. Dr. Tompkins
spoke about the progress being made by culturally and linguistically
diverse students in Kansas schools, and explained the details of
assessment and accountability under "No Child Left Behind."
Dr. Bill VanPatten, one of the five invited keynote speakers at KATESOL
this year, stood in for the scheduled Opening Ceremony speaker, Dr.
Stephen Krashen, whose connection from Denver to Hays was delayed.
Dr. VanPatten entranced the audience with a theoretical paper comparing
first and second language acquisition; his quick wit and humorous
examples made what could have been slightly esoteric scholarly
discourse actually very accessible for most participants at this
opening event, which was free and open to the general public.
A "KATESOL Social," in Dreiling Lobby, followed Friday evening's
Opening Ceremony. This reception was hosted by Fort Hays
Professor Beth Walizer and the interns from her Reading Methods
course, and sponsored by the Hays Professional Schools Alliance
and the FHSU Department of Teacher Education. Later in the evening,
nearly 30 conference participants continued celebrating at an informal
gathering at Rooftops, a fine restaurant in downtown Hays, where
many ate a late supper, while others drank beverages and still
others watched the Kansas-Missouri basketball game on a T.V.
in the adjoining bar. Stephen Krashen had finally arrived to Hays
at 9:16 p.m., and, along with Bill VanPatten, hosted the KATESOL
get-together at Rooftops.
Although Saturday morning was overcast, the entire day could
hardly have gone any better if it had been preordained by divine
intervention. The Fort Hays State University school colors, gold
and black, were waving in the wind from flagpoles encompassing
the entire campus. While many teachers stayed in Rarick for
concurrent sessions, filling rooms whose capacity was about
45 or 50, there were always significant contingents heading over
to Albertson for the hourly keynotes: Rebecca Kopriva at 9:00,
Stephen Krashen at 10:00, Ana Garcia and Lorena Dickerson
of the U.S. Department of Education at 11:00, Joy Reid at
2:15 and Bill VanPatten, in an encore performance, at 3:15.
As can be imagined, the Steve Krashen keynote was filled
to capacity, in 169 Albertson Hall, which holds 141 people.
His second talk of the day, at 11:00, in 114 Rarick Hall, was also
filled with a standing and sitting room only crowd, and
he graciously agreed to give an unprecedented third
talk, again in 114 Rarick, at 2:15 p.m. Dr. Krashen's willingness
to give his presentation three times in one day made it possible
for everyone at KATESOL who wanted to hear him to do so.
This was Stephen Krashen's first-ever appearance in the
state of Kansas, and was clearly the main attraction for
a number of people who attended the conference. To arrive
at Fort Hays State University, many teachers drove for
more than six hours, and some for as many as 10 or 11 hours.
"I still can't believe I got to meet all these famous people,"
said Irene Simonenko, of Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska.
The KATESOL/BE Annual Dinner was held at noon in the
Fort Hays State University Ballroom, located in the Memorial
Union. The meal was simple fare, but there were many
positive comments about the tomato bisque soup which
was served. Ernest Fernandez and Chartwells Food Service
catered the KATESOL dinner at Fort Hays this year.
In remarks prior to introducing the keynote speaker
at the KATESOL/BE Annual Dinner, Dr. Placido (Art)
Hoernicke made the following comment related to the
recent bombings in Madrid, Spain:
KATESOL/BE expresses deep sympathy for and
solidarity with the people of Spain, as protests against
this week's bombing in Madrid are being held worldwide.
The Flag of Spain was displayed at the front of
the Fort Hays State University Ballroom, with a black
ribbon in tribute to the lives lost in the bombing in
Madrid. Marta Moran, a representative of the Embassy of
Spain, was a special guest, speaker and exhibitor at
KATESOL/BE in Hays this year. The Flag of Spain was
lent by the University of Kansas for display at the
The keynote address at the lunchtime session was
presented by Jacqueline Boyd, a teacher educator at
Haskell Indian Nations University. Her speech was titled
"An American Indian Perspective on Diversity and
No Child Left Behind." The audience was spellbound
as Professor Boyd provided a historical context
from which to view persistent issues and problems
for Native American Indian students today.
All five invited keynote speakers--Jackie Boyd,
Rebecca Kopriva, Steve Krashen, Joy Reid and
Bill VanPatten--then shared the stage for a panel
discussion on the conference theme: "Advocating
for Language Learners in the Era of No Child Left Behind."
They were unanimous in suggesting that the problems
with NCLB stem from, in Krashen's words, "letting amateurs
dictate educational policies" which ignore the best advice
of the professionals--teachers. A further error in implementation
of "No Child Left Behind," according to several members of
the panel, is the extreme emphasis on high stakes assessments
to enforce accountability. Another related difficulty is the way
in which NCLB has become associated with the reactionary
and xenophobic "English-only" movement, whereas bilingual
education as well as first-language and less culturally-bound
assessment practices would truly permit schools and teachers
to determine how they are doing in meeting the challenge of
helping English language learners, Native American students
and other children from diverse backgrounds succeed academically.
There were a number of questions from the audience, including
concerns about provisions under NCLB which are preventing schools
from using bilingual paraeducators who are effective teaching
assistants with culturally and linguistically diverse children, but
who cannot afford the time and schooling mandated by the new
One conference participant, Dr. Katherine Langan, of Sterling
College, in Sterling, Kansas, said later in the afternoon that she
would have liked to ask one further question of the panelists and
everyone else present at KATESOL/BE 2004: "Why, when there
is such overwhelming research showing the cognitive benefits of
being bilingual, isn't there a national educational policy ensuring
that all students become bilingual?"
That question will hopefully be addressed at next spring's KATESOL
Conference, to be held in Emporia, Kansas. If this year is any
indication, the Emporia community and Emporia State University
can look forward to an exciting weekend of activity which fills their
town to the brim (All Hays hotels and motels were completely
booked this year, and some conference participants had to room
at nearby towns like Ellis or Russell, commuting 15 or 30 miles
to the event). Also, Kansas teachers and administrators will be
eagerly anticipating the next time they are convened to meet and
discuss constructive responses to the positive challenges of truly
leaving no child behind. Certainly some of the best moments of
this year's KATESOL/BE Conference in Hays were the informal
conversations with colleagues and friends we hadn't seen for years,
as well as the forming of new friendships and alliances on behalf
of our students.
One of the highlights of this year's KATESOL Conference in Hays
was that Miriam Bolyard--a Fort Hays alum--brought with her to
the campus 15 junior high students, mostly English language learners
themselves, from Guymon, Oklahoma. The students got a campus
tour in the morning, met with members of the Fort Hays HALO (Hispanic
American Leadership Organization), and joined KATESOL members
and other conference-goers at the midday annual dinner in the
Fort Hays Ballroom. "We want our students to know that a university
education is a realistic goal for them," explained Miriam Bolyard, a
former president of the FHSU chapter of HALO who now works as
an ESL teacher.
Her example of advocating on behalf of her students, and
instilling in them the desire to persevere and eventually attain
a college education, embodies the spirit which inspired the vision
which became this year's KATESOL/BE Conference. In the panel
discussion at noon, Rebecca Kopriva said that KATESOL, with
its growing numbers, has the potential to change educational
policies in Kansas. "You are a political force," she explained, "and
you need to use your power as a group to influence policy." Other
panelists agreed strongly with that statement, and challenged the
new officers of KATESOL/BE to help teachers to communicate
the professional opinions of language educators to the policy makers
in Topeka and Washington.
The new officers of KATESOL/BE for 2004-2005 are: Robert Bruce Scott, President (Fort
Hays State University / email@example.com ); Kristin Grayson, 1st Vice-President (Emporia
State University / firstname.lastname@example.org ); Christopher Renner, 2nd Vice-President and Immediate Past President (Kansas
State University / email@example.com );
Debra Stevens, Secretary/Treasurer (Geary County Public Schools / DebraStevens@USD475.org ); Janet Booth, Member-at-Large (Olathe Public Schools / firstname.lastname@example.org ); Stephanie McGinley, Member-at-Large (Goodland Public Schools / email@example.com
); Howard Pollock, Newsletter Editor (University of Kansas / firstname.lastname@example.org );
and Edith Palmberg, Sociopolitical Liaison & KATESOL Historian (Olathe Public Schools / email@example.com ).
The Conference Planning Committee for this year's record-setting
KATESOL/BE Conference was comprised of: Robb Scott (Fort Hays State University),
Peggy Hull (Dodge City Community College), Steve Wolf (Great Bend Public Schools),
Nicole Cook (Hays Language Institute), David Reid (Fort Hays State University),
Janet Booth (Olathe Public Schools), Don Blackman (Past President, KATESOL) and
Edith Palmberg (Olathe Public Schools).
The 2004 KATESOL/BE Conference in Hays was sponsored by the Special Education/ESOL
Department of Fort Hays State University and co-hosted by the Hays Language Institute.
Dr. Placido Hoernicke is Chair of the FHSU Special Education/ESOL Department. Diane
Kaufman is Director of the Hays Language Institute.
Streaming Video of Several Sessions!
This page was last updated on 03/15/2004.