Dallas Schools Fluent in Babel?
On the border of Mexico, the student population of Dallas Schools is about 43% Hispanic. The current climate of tensions over border control and bilingual education is no stranger to teachers, administrators, and families of the Dallas Schools. Who to educate in a new language, and how to teach them is a topic that has caused Dallas Schools a lot of conflict over the years.
In 2005 many residents of Dallas Schools were infuriated when the school board passed a bill that required some school principals to gain fluency in Spanish or lose their jobs. The explanation was that problems were rampant because English speaking principals and Spanish speaking parents couldnít communicate.
A furor arose among proponents of English immersion who felt that it was the Hispanic parents who had the responsibility to learn a new language. Most principals learned the language or were relocated.
The decision about how to educate non-English speaking children in Dallas schools is under the same scrutiny. Bilingual education was once viewed as the best option, and a good way to ease Hispanic speakers into the Dallas Schools culture. But a lot of evidence over the past few years points to immersion as a better way to teach children a new language.
Educators in Dallas Schools are aware that the best window for teaching a person a new language skill is before they are 7 years of age. Unfortunately, Dallas Schools donít have control over how old children are when they appear in the system. Foreign language education faces the same scrutiny, as most Dallas Schools donít offer any foreign language courses until the upper grades.
Some parents and educators in the Dallas Schools area have put out a call for earlier foreign language exposure for elementary school age children. But the current climate over immigration and forced language learning does little to help that cause. There are some innovative schools around the country that do offer complete immersion classes in a foreign language. John E. Ford Elementary School is a public school magnet in Jacksonville, FL that offers a complete Spanish immersion program from pre-k to 8th grade. However, many residents of Dallas schools are reluctant to make it easier for Spanish speaking residents to get by without English.
Are the English speaking students of Dallas Schools missing out because of the firm beliefs of some adults? Or would making Spanish more commonly used be detrimental to the Dallas Schools system? Language immersion and the offerings of free education in venues like Dallas schools continue to be hot topics around the nation. Can the grown ups come to a solution that will allow both Spanish and English speaking children to succeed in Dallas Schools? Yo no sė.