Policy Examples Supporting Dual Language Education

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In our last post, we discussed how Dual Language (DL) programs always tend to be on the chopping block.  Various reasons may be given. Many of those reasons may even be legitimate concerns that need to be addressed such as instructional strategies or the need for high quality resources.  But always mindset has a greater role to play when contemplating the demise of a Dual Language program.  After all, how often have you heard that the teaching of science is not working; therefore, we need to get rid of it?

Because mindset is usually at play, multilingual leaders (administrators and teachers) often try to change mindsets by sharing the famous graph or by explaining the importance of preserving linguistic diversity in order to support students’ identities.  However, as we discussed in our last post, Ibram Kendi (2019) warns us not to get stuck in the business of changing mindsets.  He warns us that unless we work on actual policy changes, we will be in perpetual warfare with those who are stuck in racist ideology.  

In response to the last post, I heard from readers a desire for sample policies that can help legitimize and protect Dual Language programs.  Unfortunately, there are not many out there.  However, I do have these two samples from Connecticut to share:

  1. Windham Public Schools (CT) has a policy that I wrote as Director of ESOL, Bilingual Education, and World Languages that is still in place, designed to ensure that all Emergent Bilingual elementary students who have Spanish as a home language are able to attend either Compañeros, the district’s Two-Way Dual Language program or Dos Ríos, the district’s One-Way Dual Language Program. It also ensures that transportation is provided for all students and that Newcomers at the Middle School are able to join Compañeros. The wording is as follows:

Students Eligible for Bilingual Education

Students Eligible for Bilingual Education

1.  All elementary-level students with a home language of Spanish will be offered, as part of their registration process, the opportunity to attend a Dual Language Program if they are identified as English Learners.  If a seat is not available at their home school, they will be provided transportation to another school.

2.  All Middle School new arrival students who have Spanish as a home language will be placed in the Compañeros program without a lottery process.  Because most students who begin Compañeros in elementary exit English Learner status by middle school, the addition of new arrival students to the program reestablishes the balance of languages necessary for a Dual Language program.  Furthermore, research demonstrates that new arrival students do better in Dual Language programs than other English Learner programs. New Arrival students are defined as those currently enrolled in a New Arrivals program or those who have less than 2 years education in the United States.

  1. Connecticut State Law – While the law does not require Dual Language education, it does require school districts with 20 or more students who speak the same language to evaluate the feasibility of having a Dual Language program.  While this policy does not force the implementation of Dual Language programs, it does encourage its consideration and was written as a response to stringent rules that limited the duration of bilingual education several decades ago.

Each local and regional board of education that is required to provide a program of bilingual education pursuant to this section shall investigate the feasibility of establishing two-way language programs starting in kindergarten.

Writing policies can help sustain established Dual Language programs and bolster new ones.  If you know of any other districts or states that have official Dual Language policies, please let us know in the comments section below.

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