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Most Hispanic US state weighs benefits of language programs

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Most Hispanic US state weighs benefits of language programs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Jacqueline Powell and her fourth grade classmates toiled over pencil and paper to write a letter in Spanish about what they did in class this year.

Powell explained the assignment in perfect Spanish before struggling to translate the words to end her sentence. The 10-year-old charter school student raised her forearms to her temples in a show of mental effort, making her large round glasses seesaw up and down.

That struggle, fought every week at the New Mexico International School in Albuquerque, has put her speaking ability far ahead of some of her high school peers. It has allowed her to speak in Spanish with her grandmother, who is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and she has fostered a secret language between her and her mom, whose husband and step children can’t speak Spanish.

While dual language programs are offered in thousands of schools across the U.S., New Mexico is the only state where the right to learn in Spanish is laid out in the constitution.

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Dual language programs like the one at the New Mexico International School are championed by Hispanic parents who want their children to cultivate cultural roots. They are also seen by education experts as the best way for English learners to excel in K-12 schools.

The question for lawmakers in the nation’s most heavily Hispanic state is why New Mexico’s dual language programs aren’t being used by the students who most need them.

Legislative analysts are expected in the coming weeks to release a report that will highlight challenges facing dual language and other multicultural programs. It will include a look at decades-old trends such as a lack of oversight by education officials, declining participation, and a reduction in the number of multicultural programs, said Legislative Finance Committee spokesman Jon Courtney.

The report also will acknowledge the lack of information about how well language programs are doing after two years without comprehensive academic testing due to the pandemic.

The number of dual language immersion programs has increased from 126 before the pandemic to 132 last year.

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State officials are supposed to assess the programs every three years. But the New Mexico Public Education Department has done only one in-person visit and evaluated only one school over the past three years, said department spokeswoman Judy Robinson.

The department has started a series of forums for parents around the Hispanic Education Act, a state law that informs multicultural programs.

While there isn’t a consensus among educators as to how to best teach young children languages, a New Mexico court found in 2018 that well-run dual language programs are the “gold standard” for English learners.

The alternative, more popular in Arizona, is to separate children out for remedial instruction.

In New Mexico, English learners make up a larger share of dual language program participants. They comprise 63% of participants in the current school year, up from 53% last year.

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At the New Mexico International School in Albuquerque, around half of students are Hispanic, like Jacqueline, and reflective of the city’s population.

“Many of their parents are trying to reclaim the language,” school principal Todd Knouse said.

English-speaking parents say they have an easier time learning about the benefits of dual language programs and jumping through the hoops to get into charter schools. The schools are free but don’t provide bussing.

“It’s almost like a privilege type of experience to get your kid into these programs because it does take a lot of research. Tracking down the programs, the distance of how long you’re willing to drive, the (admission) lottery,” said Mary Baldwin, 34, whose daughter attends the Albuquerque school.

“And then there’s so much shame that gets placed on the Spanish language or the culture itself,” she said. “Some families might not be aware that being bilingual is a huge strength not just culturally but also professionally.”

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Baldwin immigrated to the U.S. from Honduras when she was 10. Her daughter is the same age now and is fluent enough to cook banana-leaf-wrapped tamales with her Spanish-speaking grandmother as a result of the dual language program.

Fans of New Mexico’s programs say they elevate Spanish-speakers’ skills and give them confidence in an environment where everyone is equal as they learn a new language. The programs also increase fluency and literacy in their home language.

“It’s generally beneficial to have two languages,” said Stephen Mandrgoc, a University of New Mexico historian who has studied bilingual programs in the southwest and oversees Spanish colonial heritage programs.

When it comes to languages spoken by New Mexico’s Native American tribes and pueblos, there are some state laws that protect student rights. Still, only two dual language programs are offered in Native American languages — both in Diné, the language of the Navajo people.

Some tribes like Jemez Pueblo face a more pressing existential threat to their language because of a small population and cultural taboos that limit the creation of language materials. Other tribes like Santa Clara Pueblo say underinvestment is a problem.

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New Mexico officials have appropriated millions of dollars to support curriculum projects, but much of the funds go unspent. Advocates say one problem is the time in which grants must be spent, from less than a year to sometimes as short as a month before it reverts back to the state.

___

Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.

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Russia to send Belarus nuclear-capable missiles within months

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Russia to send Belarus nuclear-capable missiles within months

Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the West has seen as a warning not to intervene.

Published On 25 Jun 2022

Russia will supply Belarus with missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads after the president complained about nuclear-armed NATO flights coming close to the Belarusian border.

President Vladimir Putin made the announcement on Saturday as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow.

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“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television at the start of his meeting with Lukashenko in St Petersburg.

At the meeting, Lukashenko expressed concern about the “aggressive”, “confrontational”, and “repulsive” policies of Belarus’s neighbours Lithuania and Poland.

He asked Putin to help his country mount a “symmetrical response” to what he said were nuclear-armed flights by the US-led NATO alliance near Belarus’s borders.

Putin offered to upgrade Belarusian warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Last month, Lukashenko said his country had bought Iskander nuclear-capable missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft anti-missile systems from Russia.

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“Many Su-25 [aircraft] are in service with the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded in an appropriate way,” Putin said.

“This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this. We will agree on how to accomplish this.”

Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the West has seen as a warning not to intervene.

Moscow has alleged that NATO planned to admit Ukraine and use it as a platform to threaten Russia.

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Russia’s move has not only triggered a barrage of Western sanctions but also prompted Sweden and Russia’s northern neighbour Finland to apply to join the Western alliance.

In the past week, Lithuania in particular has infuriated Russia by blocking the transit of goods subject to European sanctions travelling across its territory from Russia, through Belarus, to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia called it a “blockade” but Lithuania has said it affects only 1 percent of the normal goods transit on the route and passenger traffic is unaffected.

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Fall of Severodonetsk is Russia’s biggest victory since Mariupol

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Fall of Severodonetsk is Russia’s biggest victory since Mariupol

Russian forces have fully occupied Severodonetsk, the mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city said, confirming Ukraine’s biggest battlefield setback for more than a month after weeks of fighting to hold the strategic town and latest symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

Russian missiles also rained down on western, northern and southern parts of the country on Saturday as Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War II enters its fifth month.

The fall of Severodonetsk – once home to more than 100,000 people, and now reduced to a wasteland of rubble by Russian artillery – is Moscow’s biggest victory since capturing the port of Mariupol last month.

The fall of the city transforms the battlefield in the east of Ukraine where Moscow’s huge advantage in firepower had until now yielded only slow gains.

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“The city is now under the full occupation of Russia,” the city’s Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said on national television. He said anyone left behind could no longer reach Ukrainian-held territory, as the city was effectively cut off.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Ukrainian attempt to turn the city’s Azot chemical plant into another centre of resistance had been thwarted.

“As a result of successful offensive operations, units of the people’s militia of the LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic], with the support of Russian troops … completely liberated the cities of Severodonetsk and Borivske,” he said.

‘Tactical regrouping’

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency described the fall of the city as a means for Ukrainian forces to regroup from Severodonetsk to higher ground in neighbouring Lysychansk.

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“The activities happening in the area of Severodonetsk are a tactical regrouping of our troops. This is a withdrawal to advantageous positions to obtain a tactical advantage,” said Kyrylo Budanov, head of Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

“Russia is using the tactic … it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth,” he said.

“Given the conditions, holding the defence in the ruins and open fields is no longer possible. So the Ukrainian forces are leaving for higher ground to continue the defence operations.”

Russia will now be hoping to press on and seize more ground on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river where Severodonetsk’s twin city Lysychansk is located.

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Ukraine will also hope that the price Moscow paid to capture the ruins of Severodonetsk will leave Russia’s forces vulnerable to a counterattack in coming weeks.

Lysychansk and Severodonetsk have been the focal point of Russian offensives aimed at capturing all of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and destroying the Ukrainian military defending it – the most capable and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces.

The two cities and surrounding areas are the last major pockets of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk province, 95 percent of which is under Russian and local separatist control. Russians and separatist forces also control about half of Donetsk, the second province in the Donbas.

The capture of Severodonetsk is likely to be seen by Russia as vindication for its switch from its early, failed attempt at “lightning warfare” to a relentless, grinding offensive using massive artillery in the east.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY122June25_INTERACTIVE- WHO CONTROLS WHAT IN THE DONBAS
(Al Jazeera)

The retreat from Severodonetsk also brings Moscow close to full control of Luhansk.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reporting from the capital Kyiv said the withdrawal from Severodonetsk leaves Ukrainian forces in control of just one remaining city in Luhansk.

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“The big question now though is whether the Ukrainians can hold on to Luhansk. Having seemingly lost control of Severodonetsk, there is only one more city in the Luhansk region that the Ukrainian forces still control,” Stratford said.

“This is being described fundamentally as the, potentially, biggest defeat for Ukrainian forces since Mariupol last month,” he said.

Ukrainian officials said that they were pulling troops back from Severodonetsk to avoid being surrounded by the Russians, who had crossed the river in force in recent days and were advancing on Lysychansk on the opposite bank. Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk, said Russian forces had attempted to enter and blockade Lysychansk.

Moscow says Luhansk and Donetsk, where it has backed uprisings since 2014, are independent countries, and has demanded Ukraine cede the entire territory of the two provinces to separatist administrations.

Missile strikes

Ukraine’s top general, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, wrote on the Telegram app on Saturday that newly arrived, US-supplied advanced HIMARS rocket systems were now deployed and hitting targets in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

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Elsewhere in Ukraine, governors of western and northern regions reported multiple missile attacks, indicating that Russia was not limiting its assault to eastern territories.

“48 cruise missiles. At night. Throughout whole Ukraine,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “Russia is still trying to intimidate Ukraine, cause panic and make people be afraid.”

48 🇷🇺 cruise missiles. At night. Throughout whole Ukraine. Exclusively on civilian targets… Russia is still trying to intimidate Ukraine, cause panic and make people be afraid of Z-monsters… Ukraine knows everything and ready for anything. And it will punish for all the evil…

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 25, 2022

The governor of Lviv region in western Ukraine, Maxim Kozytskyi, said in a video posted online that six missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the Yavoriv base near the border with Poland. Four hit the target but two were destroyed.

In the north, Vitaliy Bunechko, governor of the Zhytomyr region, said strikes on a military target killed at least one soldier, adding that nearly 10 missiles had been intercepted and destroyed.

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In the south, Oleksandr Senkevych, mayor of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea, said five cruise missiles hit the city and nearby areas on Saturday.

The number of casualties is being clarified and there was no independent confirmation of the various reports.

‘Belarus as a co-belligerent’

In another potentially significant development, Ukraine said it had come under “massive bombardment” early on Saturday morning from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict.

Twenty rockets “fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air” targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine’s northern military command said. It said infrastructure was hit, but no casualties had yet been reported.

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“Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian intelligence service said.

Ukraine’s air command also said Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers were deployed from Belarus for the first time. Belarus hosts Russian military units and was used as a staging ground before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but its own troops have not yet crossed the border.

On Saturday afternoon, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would send Belarus missiles able to carry nuclear warheads within months.

“We will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” he said, as he met his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg.

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Rhode Island Officer Suspended for Off-Duty Actions at Abortion Protest

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Rhode Island Officer Suspended for Off-Duty Actions at Abortion Protest

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island police officer accused of punching a woman at an abortion protest while he was off-duty was suspended from his job with pay Saturday while the Providence Police Department conducts a criminal investigation into his actions.

Jennifer Rourke, Rhode Island Political Cooperative Chairwoman and a state Senate candidate, told the Providence Journal she was punched in the face at least twice by Jeann Lugo, the officer who had also been her challenger in the state Senate race.

Lugo told the Journal on he was “not going to deny” the punching allegation, but added that “everything happened very fast.”

“As an officer that swore to protect and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in,” he said in the email to the Boston Globe. ”I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking.”

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Lugo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Video of the event posted online shows two other individuals involved in a physical altercation at the protest right before a woman, apparently Rourke, is seen being hit. The video does not show what happened between Lugo and Rourke prior to Rourke being hit.

“I’m a Black woman running for office,” Rourke told the Journal. “There was no need, no need for any of this. I’m not going to give up.”

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza addressed the conflict in a tweet but said he was limited in what he could say.

“I’ve seen the video and it’s immensely disturbing,” Elorza said. “Those responsible will be held fully accountable.”

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At midday Saturday, Lugo tweeted that he was dropping out of the race.

“I will not be running for any office this fall,” he said.

In a news release announcing the suspension, Providence police said the suspended officer was a three-year veteran.

The altercation occurred during a Friday protest outside the Rhode Island State House in Providence that was in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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