Message from the KATESOL/BE President
KATESOL/BE starts the 2004-2005 year with, first of all, an addition to our name. We are now the Kansas Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages and Bilingual Educators, and are the Kansas affiliate of both TESOL and NABE (National Association of Bilingual Educators). In Kansas public schools, there are a range of workable models being implemented on behalf of English language learners. Bilingual education is an important one of those models, particularly in light of recent research by Thomas and Collier (2002) showing the crucial role played by grade-level content in L1 during the first several years of a child's experience in an English-dominant school. Stephen Krashen visited our state in the early spring of 2004, as one of the keynote speakers at the KATESOL/BE Conference in Hays. On his way home he noticed a story about bilingual education programs in the Kansas City Star, and wrote a complimentary letter to the editor:
Contrary to popular opinion, scientific studies consistently show that well-organized bilingual programs are very successful in helping English learners acquire English quickly and do well in school: they use the first language in a way that actually accelerates acquisition of English.
Kansas is doing the right thing in offering bilingual programs."
Dual language programs (two-way immersion) are also gaining in popularity in Kansas schools. When Dodge City opens a new English-Spanish dual-language elementary school, there are long lines of parents (first-language English speakers as well as speakers of English as a second language) vying for the chance to expose their children to the benefits of learning academic content in two languages instead of one. There are also a number of schools using pull-out ESOL complemented by sheltered English instruction to meet the needs of our culturally and linguistically diverse learners.
KATESOL members were recently instrumental--through grassroots e-mailing, telephoning and faxing--in getting the Kansas legislature to pass HB2145, a bill giving in-state tuition to immigrant Kansans 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. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is signing the bill into law because of the vital roles that immigrant Kansans will play in the future growth and prosperity of the state.
A related area of concern for KATESOL/BE members is providing English instruction to adult learners, in continuing education or intensive English programs located at community colleges, public school district centers and universities. With recent changes in immigration procedures and the increasing international tension over the past several years, fewer students are coming from abroad to study in the United States. While this trend is impacting the ability of Kansas institutions of higher learning to bring to campus the crucial component which diverse cultures, languages and perspectives contribute, the picture is not as bleak here as in other parts of the country. Many programs are coming up with innovative ways to comply fully with student visa regulations while capitalizing on the broad appeal which Kansas represents as a safe, friendly place for international students to get a higher education.
We're probably a little different than some outside the state might have imagined. KATESOL/BE is determined to continue "advocating for language learners in the era of No Child Left Behind," which was the theme of our 2004 conference. Our organization is now 200 members strong, and growing rapidly. Please join us in our mission to serve as a network of advocacy, communication and professional development for Kansas educators who want to improve the academic and social experiences of our language learners.
Robert Bruce Scott
Prior Messages from KATESOL Presidents