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UC Educator Named to National Scholars Program

Date: Feb. 6, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News

A new faculty member in the College of Education is among the first group of educators named to the College Board's new Visiting Scholars program, which is an effort to attract and establish relationships with nationally renowned scholars. The appointment for Virginia Gonzalez began during summer 2000 and will continue through summer 2001.

The College Board is an organization that works to ensure students around the world have the opportunity to succeed in higher education. Gonzalez, an associate professor for the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program, will conduct research and advise the College Board on issues of instruction and assessment for ESL learners. She has an extensive background researching the struggles certain ESL populations face, particularly Spanish-speaking children - a growing population in the United States.

Gonzalez has a personal connection to her research. She and her husband emigrated from Latin America to the United States in the 1980s. They met when they were graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin. In an article to be published in the College Board Review in April 2001, she examines how the American Dream continues to hold promise for immigrants trying to escape poverty and lack of opportunity at home. From the 1880s until the mid 1950s, Gonzalez says Ellis Island first symbolized the American Dream. The influx of immigrants benefited themselves and American industry, because the industrial revolution brought a huge demand for unskilled workers.

However, in contrast to the industrial years when a high school diploma was considered enough schooling for job hunters, those opportunities started dwindling in our high-tech, information age. Gonzalez says parents of immigrant school children may be illiterate in their own language, and their children may not have attended school in their native country. These families embrace the American Dream as they hope to escape the dismal socioeconomic conditions they endure in their homeland.

Gonzalez says these factors put immigrant children at risk, reduce achievement, "and swell the school dropout rate. "We need preventive programs to actually incorporate the families and communities to collaborate with the school system. We need to begin at the preschool level, reaching these at-risk children who have this acute need to develop their minority language academically, so we can introduce English as a second language.

"We also need to provide educational opportunities for their parents, a preventive, family/community model. The College Board is very much in tune with this and is committed to improving achievement and increasing the pool of minority candidates in the public school system to become freshmen at universities."

Gonzalez became a College Board Visiting Scholar by invitation. She has participated in various College Board programs since 1998. As a Visiting Scholar, she serves as a consultant to the Council on Inquiry and Praxis, in which scholars collaborate with school districts that are gaining successful achievement for at-risk children. Gonzalez also will conduct two seminars during 2001, one at the College Board office in New York City and the other at the office in Puerto Rico.

Gonzalez says she joined the faculty at the University of Cincinnati because of Dean Lawrence J. Johnson's interest in further developing UC's TESL program. Ohio's growing ESL population was another consideration for the move from Texas A&M to Cincinnati.

Before joining UC, she was an associate professor at Texas A&M University in the bilingual/ESL programs.

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