Room 210, George Washington Elementary School
This chapter provides a glimpse of how students are taught at George Washington Elementary School in Union City, New Jersey. It presents observations from Room 210, one of five third-grade classrooms at Washington Elementary. Half of the fourteen students here will start the year learning entirely in Spanish, and the rest have only recently begun reading and writing in English. Three of them just arrived in the United States and for them Room 210 marks their introduction to life in an American school. For seven hours a day over the course of the next nine months, kids will be in the hands of their teacher, Alina Bossbaly. Union City has pioneered in bringing immigrant youngsters, many of whom come to school unable to write a sentence in Spanish, into the education mainstream. Elsewhere, these new arrivals might be handed the educational equivalent of a death sentence—inadequately taught, they never catch up, and they quit or get pushed out as soon as the law permits. But in Union City, after only a few years you cannot distinguish the students whose first days in an American school are spent in a class like Alina's from those who have spent their entire lives in the United States.
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