Languages equal privilege. Languages are taught in private schools much more than in public schools. Wealthy Americans send their kids to Mandarin dual language schools in droves. Wealthier kids have Spanish speaking nannies, private language tutors, will go travel with their families, or might even go study abroad.

Meanwhile our public education system essentially forces recent immigrants and emerging bilinguals into an English only education system, and low achieving students are not offered languages because “these kids can hardly speak English”.

Given the growing demand for bilingual employees and the higher paying salaries available to people who are multiliterate, an education policy that does not foresee multilingual education for all, is inherently inequitable and has the effect of further widening the opportunity gap. Not having a second language means not having the same chances at getting into college or landing a job.

In a District where the achievement and the opportunity gap are wide and growing, strategies like dual language programs which address both should be looked at as a matter of urgency.

 

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