TEDxCatherine | Catherine Cavanaugh | TEDxUniversityofPittsburgh

TEDxCatherine | Catherine Cavanaugh | TEDxUniversityofPittsburgh

Conference Details

  • The TEDx conference called "Illumination" features three student speakers and offers food and drinks during intermission.
  • Attendees are requested to refrain from recording the event and to turn off flash photography.

Speaker 1: Katherine Kavana

  • Katherine Kavana, a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh, advocates for English language education.
  • She discusses the challenges faced by English language learners (ELLs) in the US education system.
  • Kavana emphasizes the need for more linguistic advocacy and support for ELLs, including adequate resources and support staff.
  • She highlights the importance of early education for ELLs and addresses the high dropout rates among ELL high school students.
  • Kavana argues that more needs to be done to ensure ELLs have equal access to education, despite the Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974 mandating English language learning programs in every school.

Challenges Faced by ELLs

  • The American Chemical Society (ACS) recognizes high failure rates for English learners (ELs) in subjects like biology, chemistry, and health, which are required for a high school diploma in many states.
  • Lack of resources, such as reference textbooks, further hinders ELs' support in many schools.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges for ELs, who had to balance remote learning with family and work obligations.

Proposed Solution

  • Kavana proposes free access to online enrichment resources, tutoring services, and quick question and response programs in Spanish to help ELs succeed.
  • The project has a significant impact in Pennsylvania, despite its relatively low population density of English language learning students, and is already being used in over 18 countries and 20 states in the US.

Education as the Great Equalizer

  • Education is viewed as a means to achieve wealth, security, and personal fulfillment.
  • Kavana shares personal stories of individuals like Sebastian and Dolores, who benefited from educational opportunities in the US, emphasizing the importance of ensuring equal access to education for all, regardless of language barriers.

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