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. Dallas Children’s GENECIS
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 couldn’t 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 don’t have control over how old children are when they appear in the system. Foreign language education faces the same scrutiny, as most Dallas Schools don’t offer any foreign language courses until the upper grades.