NYSED Grants $1.8 Million to Multilingual Initiative

The CUNY-NY State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (NYSIEB), a new project of the Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) and the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education, has been awarded $1.8 million for two years by the New York State Education Department. RISLUS is a university institute housed in the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Linguistics; the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education is a leading doctoral degree–granting organization in the field of educational research which specializes in school and policy issues affecting urban environments.

The initiative addresses the enduring issue of multilingualism in New York State’s public schools and represents an innovative effort to improve the public school experience and the academic success of emergent bilingual students. The grant will fund an extensive program of professional development for school principals around issues of language and multilingualism, and will promote materials, staffing conditions, successful educational policies, programs, and practices that will improve the educational achievements of emergent bilinguals.

The project has a vital dissemination component that will document and publicize existing successful programs. Titled “Best programs and practices for emergent bilinguals in schools in the State of New York,” the portfolio is intended to influence and improve the practices and policies of less successful programs. Professor Anthony Picciano, executive officer of the doctoral program in urban education, will lead this component of the initiative.

Also to be explored and developed are New York State Native Language Arts (NLA) standards that are aligned with the new Common Core standards, NLA being an important component in the education of emergent bilinguals.

Ricardo Otheguy (Prof., GC, Linguistics, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, Urban Education), director of RISLUS, is principal investigator (PI) of the project; serving as co-PIs are two members of the GC’s doctoral faculty in urban education, Professor Ofelia GarcĂ­a and Associate Professor Kate Menken; and serving as acting project director is Nelson Flores, a doctoral candidate finishing a dissertation on the history of U.S. educational language policy. Moreover, eight CUNY faculty members from five colleges—Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, and Queens—all with expertise in the field of bilingual education, will work as associate investigators in the initiative; and a number of GC graduate students in urban education and linguistics will have the opportunity to serve as research assistants.

Submitted on: DEC 14, 2011

Category: Grants, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, Linguistics, Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS), Urban Education