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Hispanic Students Overcoming Barriers

Our guest blogger is Megan Gildow. Megan has covered education for Cox Media Group newspapers in southwest Ohio for the last five years. She is currently the education reporter for the Springfield News-Sun. She is a graduate of Ohio University, where she studied magazine journalism with specializations in English and Spanish.

When a new student enters Becky Young’s class, she starts as if they were in kindergarten — no matter what their age. “We start with pictures,” the 20-year veteran of Springfield City Schools said Friday.

Young is the only English as a Second Language teacher in Springfield City Schools, working with five ESL tutors and 140 students. She spends her days traveling among the district’s buildings working with kids who are deemed “Limited English Proficient,” the designation assigned to students who are learning English as a second language.

Her students speak Tagalog, French, German, Urdu and many other languages. But the majority of the district’s English language learners speak Spanish, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Hispanic students are more likely to be English language learners and economically-disadvantaged than any other group of students in Clark and Champaign County, according to a Springfield News-Sun analysis of data from the ODE. They are also the second fastest-growing population of students in the area at a 114 percent increase in the last decade, trailing only multi-racial students.

President Obama last week signed an executive order to renew and amplify initiatives to increase academic achievements among Hispanic-American students, an initiative first signed by President George H.W. Bush and continued by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

“”Making sure we offer all our kids, regardless of race, a world-class education is more than a moral obligation, it’s an economic imperative if we want America to succeed in the 21st century,” said Obama as he signed the order last Tuesday. “But it’s not something that can fall to the (U.S.) department of education alone. It’s going to take all of us — public and private sector, teachers and principals, parents getting involved in their kids’ education, and students giving their best — because the farther they go in school, the farther they’ll go in life.”

In Clark and Champaign counties, despite economic and language barriers, Hispanic students are performing well, according to ODE data.