Local News

Language Program Aims to Keep Hispanic Students in School

Posted March 23, 2008
Updated March 24, 2008

— Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic population in North Carolina. They are also dropping out of school at a high rate.

In Wake County, 17 percent of high school dropouts are Hispanic, but a new English language boot camp aims to reduce that ratio.

“They may not have the support at home to keep them in school. The parents may not know English and probably can't help their child as much,” student Eduardo Rocha said.

Some of last year's 300 Hispanic dropouts said the only academic support they had was from their Wake County English-as-a-Second-Language teachers.

“These are students that are really going to fall behind because they have to learn English, but have to engage in a standard course of study,” English-as-a-Second-Language program director Tim Hart said.

To reduce the number of dropouts, the Wake County Public School System plans to start an ESL Academy at Cary, Garner and Wakefield high schools.

The program would offer nearly all-day English instruction, instead of the one-hour ESL classes currently offered.

Regulations under the federal No Child Left Behind program require ESL students to take the same end-of-grade and end-of-course tests as other students.

School officials liken the ESL Academy to a language boot camp, funded with federal money.

The goal is to keep Hispanic students in school.

“If they're going to be productive students, productive citizens and most likely living here, they need to have the skills of reading and writing English so that they can be productive in our society,” Hart said.

Rocha is planning to attend Greensboro College.

“What I intend to major in is U.S. history and education,” he said.

School officials hope the ESL Academy will help other students follow in Rocha's footsteps.

The ESL program is slated to start in August.

Cary, Garner and Wakefield high schools were chosen as test sites because of their high ESL populations and willingness to try out the program.


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  • whatusay Mar 24, 2008

    Why not let illegals who can speak english teach english to those who need it? Why are the tax payers being targeted for this expense?

  • truth-hurts Mar 24, 2008

    fatchance - what a great idea!! Since, as some here have pointed out, proper English is not being spoken in our schools now, why not use these ESL classes as remedial classes to offer the extra assistance that some children clearly need and deserve in order to be all they can be.

  • fatchanceimwrong Mar 24, 2008

    What do you think would happen if about 100 kids who are american citizens showed up early at each school listed and stood in line to receive the taxpayer funded services, and the children of illegal immigrants had to get in the back of the line? I'd love to see this happen, as it should.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 24, 2008


    As I said in an earlier post. I am sure you are willing to contribute additional money for this program. Just paying your current taxes is not enough. This is an extra, unnecessary program. Folks like you that are in favor of it, should pay for it.

  • truth-hurts Mar 24, 2008


    I agree with you 100% on that statement, but my children are not getting any special programs or attention to help them be all they can be. And as you've read in this post, there are other children who will be losing their assistance so that we can have more programs such as this one. It's wrong and does not treat all children equally.

  • fatchanceimwrong Mar 24, 2008

    WRAL posts a story like this, fully aware that it will infuriate most readers, then censors any responses that don't facilitate positive discussion. How many illegal aliens do you suppose are working in the WRAL gardens....hmmmm.

  • bettyboopr2 Mar 24, 2008

    Why wasn't my comment posted? I haven't wrote anything any different than any other person posting on this site.

  • footballmom1 Mar 24, 2008

    This is sad! My child has ADD and is left behind in school daily. Even though he is classified as being in the exceptional childrens program, which I paid thousands out of pocket to a private doctor to get him in because the school systems was dragging tail with there testing, he is still in a regular class doing the same work as others that he can not keep up with, instead of being in a special reading program because he does not read well! This has depressed him and made him hate school! So, where is the help for him? My child will be the one that wants to quit school but that does not seem to concern the government because he comes from the "Ideal American family" so it's O.K. they know we would jump out of planes to help our kids so they turn their heads to them. Therefore, I continue to spend MY money and stay up late at night to teach him MYSELF so he to can be a productive citizen oneday! What is this world coming to?

  • Student Nurse Mar 24, 2008

    "is this why the autistic classes are being cut in half so we can cater to these people ? come one people"

    Not just the AU classes, but the CC classes also. Special education is getting cut all over. And there aren't enough private schools for them either. :(

  • WilloWSnapper Mar 24, 2008

    is this why the autistic classes are being cut in half so we can cater to these people ? come one people