The Hechinger Report explores the benefits of dual-language programs in socioeconomically disadvantaged, black neighborhoods. “With bilingualism linked to enhanced academic and social skills, educators say dual-language programs can be used to narrow the achievement gap and equip underserved students for a future in a competitive workforce.” This is a topic that is seldom discussed and that has potentially significant implications in the context of socioeconomic school segregation.
The article by Natalie Gross looks at Houston Elementary DCPS, DC’s first dual language program east of the river, and points out that DC is not alone in advocating for dual language programs as a tool to narrow the opportunity gap. “Schools in metro areas like Miami and Philadelphia and smaller cities like Urbana, Illinois, among others, have started programs in predominantly black, low-income neighborhoods to ensure students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to become bilingual.”
DC Immersion’s co-founders Jimell Sanders and Vanessa Bertelli are quoted.
“D.C. has already “reached a point where the bank tellers need to be able to speak Spanish,” Bertelli said. “The healthcare, the social services people need to be able to speak Spanish.”
For Sanders, more dual-language programs at schools like Houston are good news for kids like her 3-year-old daughter Layla, who is already singing Spanish songs from Kendrick’s classroom at home.
She wants Layla to be able to be “at the table” someday, leading discussions in the workforce and in a global society — conversations, Sanders said, that won’t always happen in English.”
The article was published also in the Christian Science Monitor.