Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Wisconsin Public Elementary Schools: What to Do With the New Immigrants?

Marguerite Parks, Michelle A. Fuerch.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 30% of the immigrants in Wisconsin in 2000 were from Mexico. From 1990 to 2000 the US experienced a 117% growth in immigrant population overall and a 97% growth rate of immigrant populations from Spanish-Speaking Latin America. While Wisconsin’s change in immigrant diversity is relatively low compared to other States, the changing demographics nonetheless are reflected in the increasing numbers of English language learners primarily from Mexico in the public schools. The 1973 Lau vs. Nichols ruling requires that every child in America have access to English as a second language or bilingual education instruction to promote an equal educational opportunity. While large school districts are able to provide ESL and/or bilingual teachers, programs and vibrant assessment of student learning, this is not always the case in rural populations. What happens to the lone ELL student who is placed in a classroom with a teacher with little or no experience or training in ESL? Despite a recent report by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence (CREDE) claiming that ELL learners immersed in mainstream classrooms show large decreases in reading and math skills, small school districts offer immersion into mainstream English as the only option. How rural schools in Ripon, Markesan, Green Lake, Berlin, Princeton, Rosendale and Brandon are serving the increasing Spanish-speaking population forms the focus of this study. We use interviews with teachers, parents, administrators and students to examine the experience of ELL students immersed in these rural schools all located in SE Central Wisconsin.


Marguerite Parks  (United States)

Michelle A. Fuerch  (United States)
Professor of Spanish
Department of Romance and Classical Languages
Ripon College

Professor of Spanish for 25 years
Research interests: Minorities of Spain; Hindu/Portuguese Relations in Goa, India; Spanish-Speakers in US and Education;Women in Medieval Spain
Summer Stock Theater (Acting)
Languages: Sanish, Portuguese, French

  • English Language Learners
  • English as a Second Language
  • Schools in Rural Wisconsin
  • Spanish-Speaking Population

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)