As almost 20 percent of Madison Metropolitan School District’s students are Latino and 27 percent are English Language Learners, the interest and the need for dual-language immersion (DLI) education has been growing and will only continue to grow in Madison. With that in mind, Nuestro Mundo, Inc., the Latino Education Council, and Centro Hispano co-sponsored Madison’s 6th Dual Language Immersion Summit at Centro Hispano on March 10, attended by 50 parents, teachers, youth, and community leaders involved in dual-language immersion education.
For Dr. Salvador Carranza, president of Latino Education Council, it was a very positive and encouraging event.
“It really was a great event this year. I think, on purpose, the event was organized to listen and hear from both parents and the participants about what they think about the DLI programs and what they feel should be improved,” Carranza tells Madison365. “I think it went really well. We got a lot of good information and many good recommendations that we will try to follow up on.”
Carranza told the crowd at the event that “monolingualism is the new illiteracy.”
“I was at a global education conference in Washington D.C. recently and there were many international education directors from the universities throughout the United States and the keynote was talking about the importance of language – not just here in the United States, but worldwide. He quoted Gregg Roberts, a World Language Specialist for the Utah Department of Education, who said, ‘monolingualism is the new illiteracy,'” Carranza says.
“He basically means that monolingual people will be at a great disadvantage today and in the future in their opportunities to succeed because knowing another language and another culture will be essential,” Carranza adds. “Obviously, comparing it to illiteracy is a stretch, but there is an important message on the importance of bilingualism. People will be at a huge disadvantage if they don’t have these skills.”
Since Nuestro Mundo Community School opened their doors as Madison’s first K-5 DLI school in 2004, Spanish/English DLI programs have expanded and are now available in 10 elementary schools, four middle schools, and one high school with another high school to be added in 2018-2019. The 6th Dual Language Immersion Summit saw parents and teachers alike talking about the importance of expanding DLI class offerings.
“We had many people at the event that were DLI teachers that were concerned that they needed more resources,” Carranza says. “They would like to have the District hire a DLI coordinator that is specific to each one of the DLI schools so that they can provide the support for the teachers that they need to be able to do the program well. That is not really available now.”
MMSD has a small central Office of Multilingual and Global Education (OMGE), which provides support for English as a Second Language (ESL) programs as well as bilingual education and DLI programs. Participants expressed interest in working together to create a stronger sense of community across DLI schools in Madison and to provide more support for middle and high school programs.
“OMGE is only like four or five staff for all of the district so even there they understand how difficult it is for them to provide the immediate support they need,” Carranza says. “So, one of the things that we will try to move forward with is recommendations to the district for more resources – at least at the high school level – for more DLI coordinators.”
Panelists at the DLI Summit included recent Madison La Follette High School graduate Oscar Cruz who highlighted the importance of expanding DLI class offerings in high school to include honors and AP classes. Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron, a parent of DLI students, summarized the importance of DLI education for all students in MMSD. “DLI teaches students more than language, it teaches students acceptance and inclusion of differences,” she said. “It has the power to transform our communities.”
Carranza says that he hopes that the Madison School Board will appreciate the scope and importance of DLI programs and allocate more resources for DLI coordinators. He adds that he really appreciates the dialogue that went on at Madison’s 6th Dual Language Immersion Summit.
“It’s was a great day. A very positive day. Instead of just talk, it was more about action and what we need to do to improve and to support the parents and the teachers in the DLI programs moving forward,” Carranza says.