Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Expanding Dual Language In Seattle Schools

The district has a plan to expand the system of dual language/international schools.  I think this would be welcome news to many parents who would like that opportunity for their child.
Seattle Public Schools in March 2016 initiated a process for addressing these challenges and others through the establishment of an International Schools / Dual Language Immersion Task Force. The primary purpose of the Task Force is to prepare a report to the Superintendent of Schools regarding the impacts, risks and benefits for sustaining and expanding Seattle’s International Schools and Dual Language Immersion programs. The Superintendent will use this report, along with other important data in making recommendations to the School Board for potential changes in the 2017-18 school year.
However, there is always the underlying issue of how this is funded.  The district likes to start programs with little funding and then expect them to do well (or expect parents to raise money for them to do well.)  So I am wary of this effort even as I applaud it.

As well, a reader alerted me to the website page that describes this effort and imagine my surprise to learn they are creating a taskforce to work on the report for the Superintendent.  What is more troubling is this:

Timeline for Meetings:
Monday, March 28, 2016 5:15-6:30 pm
Thursday, April 7, 2016 5:15-6:30 pm
​Monday, May 16, 2016 5:15-6:30 pm
Thursday, June 2, 2016 5:15-6:30 pm


Information about applying to the Task Force coming soon.

For more information, contact Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki, International Education Administrator maaoki@seattleschools.org.
 

The first meeting is in two weeks and they have not even formed the taskforce.

Also, that's a pretty tricky time to get to JSCEE for a meeting, so I'm thinking it would definitely limit who could serve.

Lastly, how much can you truly get done in an hour and fifteen minutes?  The first meeting would be all about introductions, rules of engagement and the task at hand.

This doesn't look particularly authentic. 

Thank you to reader L.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's also always the issue of program effectiveness. Evaluation, anyone?

kitty

Anonymous said...

Here's the link:

http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=9140705

Note they spend a lot of time talking about the challenges involved, including:
"Clear K-12 pathways for immersion students.
Identifying resources needed to create accessible pathways
A clear plan for what immersion looks like in elementary, middle, and high school"

Lots of moving parts as the district deals with looming capacity needs, especially in the North End with new high school slated to open at Lincoln, smack in the middle of two elementary international immersion schools (JSIS and MacDonald) and Hamilton International Middle School.

Anonymous said...

No, please. As others are saying, no expansion of International schools until there is a funding mechanism (don't these schools currently rely on hundreds of thousands of dollars in PTA funds for IAs and other resources?), full evaluation of program effectiveness, and certainty about the pathways for students from elementary to high school. With all the capacity constraints, adding another factor to the decision-making doesn't help. How about first fixing all the other programs the District has started before jumping into something else?

- Skeptic

Outsider said...

The thing to keep in mind about language immersion programs is -- they are (among other things perhaps) a mechanism for stealth resegregation that tends to escape the PC filter. I am guessing very few poor and special ed students go into dual language immersion. They are an ideal mechanism to exempt the children of Asian immigrants from the levelling impulse of the Seattle schools, and probably have a strong Asian constituency for that reason. They probably also face ferocious opposition for that reason. I would guess that so many knives have been quietly drawn you couldn't even count them. I would guess immersion in any European language other than Spanish is less likely than sending students to Mars.

The apparent quick'n'dirty quality of the process could indicate two things:
1) it's an attempt to get something done quickly before the storm can gin up; or
2) it's a sop to certain constituencies who have been pleading behind the scenes, but is designed to go nowhere.

susan said...

I find it crazy that SPS staff tells the board they are causing them to run in a million directions. All the new programs and task force should be put to rest until the current board feels the "basic" house is in order.

Anonymous said...

Two more things I hope they will be considering:
How will they find teachers who are qualified for these jobs? These schools need someone actively looking for next-year's teachers all year. It is not enough to speak the target language and have a teaching credential. (And even that can be very difficult to find, especially for those not-infrequent August openings.) Teacher who do dual immersion successfully are truly exceptional in their skills. Did Dearborn ever find a teacher for that post that was still unfilled well into the school year?

Secondly, how will they address the current inability of these schools to help kids with learning disabilities? Immersion schools have yearly attrition because of kids needing support that they cannot get from teachers with student loads that can approach 60. I have known many kids who have left because of vision impairment, dyslexia, ADHD and other common issues. Is it o.k. to just not have the capacity to serve these kids? I would guess that between 2 and 5 kids per class leave before fifth grade because of a learning disability, and several kids will stay and struggle.

Former SPSParent







Anonymous said...

@ Former SPSParent, why do these schools have decreased ability to deal with students who have special needs? You mentioned "loads that can approach 60." Is that because students spend half the day in English and half with the immersion language teacher? Aren't there non-immersion schools that have students switch teachers during the day, but that still manage to serve all?

kitty

Jet City mom said...

When my daughter was at Garfield, they couldn't find a teacher for third year Spanish when a teacher was on leave, so they had lots of subs. This left her unprepared for AP Spanish senior yr.
I agree that it will be difficult to find teacher for immersion.

I'd like SPS to pay more attention towards helping ELL transition to neighborhood schools ( or schools of their choice)
Maybe expand the World school?

Kate said...

I am the parent of an International Dual Language School student and welcome the news of the proposed task force!

Our schools are in high demand. There are long wait lists to get into Dual Language programs. I believe this is because Dual Language programs speak to a desire among many to have their child learn in a culturally relevant way, and to gain language skills in the process. For children who come to the program as Native/Heritage speakers of the target language offered at the school it is also a way to maintain linguistic ties to their family and to their culture.

Much of the rest of the world offers dual language learning from an early age. The United States is starting to catch up. Utah and North Carolina, for example, each have well over 100 Dual Language programs. Portland offers robust Dual Language programs with clear K-12 pathways. New York City is converting all of their ELL programs to Dual Language. The benefits – to both English speakers, and non-Enlgish speakers have proven to be great, and it has also shown to be an effective method for closing the achievement gap.

Thomas and Collier have conducted many of the studies of Dual Language programs in the United States. You can access the studies and all the research figures by going to their website (www.thomasandcollier.com) to the publications tab, and under research monographs you will find three NC studies cited with the Internet link to get the full text of these studies. They found that all dual language students did much better on the NC state test in English than their peers not in dual language. The two groups who benefit the most dramatically of all are English learners and African American students (some in inner city schools; others in rural agricultural contexts), as well as low-income students, and even students with special needs. For example, the African American dual language students are outperforming their peers not in dual language by TWO grade levels by the middle school years. Kathryn Lindholm-Leary also has longitudinal research findings on dual/immersion students--check her website.

Kate said...

I also wanted to respond to the comments made by “Outsider.”
First, the commenter said that, “I am guessing very few poor and special ed students go into dual language immersion.” This is not true. The majority of Dual Language programs in Seattle (including those at Concord, Dearborn Park, Beacon Hill, Denny and Chief Sealth) are located in schools where the majority of students receive free or reduced lunch. They are also mainly neighborhood schools and have similar numbers of special ed students as other schools. Fred Genesee has a journal article entitled, “Immersion for ALL: The suitability of immersion for at-risk learners. “ His work would be a good resource on this topic.

“Outsider” then writes: “They are an ideal mechanism to exempt the children of Asian immigrants from the leveling (sic) impulse of the Seattle schools, and probably have a strong Asian constituency for that reason. “ I find this comment to be incredibly racist. International schools which offer Japanese and Chinese language programs do attract families of Asian decent, not because they are trying to escape something, but primarily because these families understandably want to pass Chinese or Japanese language skills and cultural knowledge on to their children. There are also many children not of Asian decent in International schools learning Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.

There are many reasons why it is important to honor Asian languages and cultures in Seattle Public Schools through Dual Language programs. One of the foremost is the tragic history of sending Japanese-American families to internment camps. There is nothing we could ever do to make this history right, but having Seattle schools that instill a respect for Japanese language and culture among all students, and allow families of Japanese decent to maintain their cultural heritage, feels like a step in the right direction.

In response to the next comment from “Outside”: “I would guess immersion in any European language other than Spanish is less likely than sending students to Mars,” I would ask - Do you have a desire to see a Dual Language program in another language? Please, go to your school board, organize your community, and lobby for the program to expand. International Dual Language schools are one of the most exciting developments in Public School education in Seattle and I would love to see more offerings.

Others have commented on the difficulty finding teachers. And yes, ”Anonymous,” Dearborn Park did hire (finally!) a Spanish teacher for their first grade. As programs, like Dearborn Park's, expand every year there does need to be a focus on hiring. I am guessing this was one of the catalysts for creating the task force. I know there are teachers in our community; they just might not have all the endorsements they need to be in the classroom. Recommending a Dual Language teacher pipeline through partnerships with local colleges will probably be one of the suggestions of the taskforce.

This task force won’t solve everything. From what I read it looks like their work is just to create a report for the Superintendent. I am looking forward to reading it and being a part of the continued work of International Dual Language schools in Seattle.

Outsider said...

Kate, how many African American or Hispanic students are enrolled in Chinese immersion? LOL.

"Please, go to your school board, organize your community, and lobby for the program to expand" -- so you are basically agreeing, this comes down not to the inherent virtues of dual language education, but to which communities are well organized and can lobby effectively? And that no expansion will ever take place in Seattle other than Asian languages and Spanish? I thought so.

Anonymous said...

Kate,

If you are going to make note of grammar or spelling errors in the comments, you should be aware that you are using (sic) incorrectly and have misspelled descent.

Be Kind

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maureen said...

Is the District establishing a taskforce to look into fully funding IB? Will the immersion task force consider moving programs to buildings in a way that helps balance capacity, like IB schooks do?

Charlie Mas said...

Before anything else, the District needs to conduct evaluations of all academic programs, as required by Policy 2190.

Manolita said...

My kids attend international schools, two of them at a free or reduced lunch school. To our family and our values and beliefs international education is not a wsnt, it is a need. I support and advocate access to high quality programs for all so yes, I plan on being involved with the task force.

Pauline said...

I am a parent of a dual language student, now in middle school, and a member of the first dual language cohort in our local elementary school. Before the district starts expanding the program, they really need to work out what happens after elementary school to keep the language-learning going on into middle and high school. It has been a real mess for 6th and 7th grade for my child, and there is still no decision about what will happen in high school - which will be in 18 months - and WHICH high school, if it actually does continue. This has created a lot of anxiety in our family, and others - and my child has started begging me to opt out.

Kate said...

Dear "Outsider":

To your comment: "how many African American or Hispanic students are enrolled in Chinese immersion? LOL." I would like to say that at Dearborn Park, Beacon Hill and Mercer International Schools there are many African American and Latino students in Chinese immersion. Why would this not be the case?

This is happening not just in Seattle, but around the country. Here is a link to a video about Dual Language education in Minnesota: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc4zD_BVT-M . Towards the end of the video, it highlights the ways Dual Language programs can help close the achievement gap among African American students learning Chinese, in particular.

To your next reaction to my post:

"'Please, go to your school board, organize your community, and lobby for the program to expand' -- so you are basically agreeing, this comes down not to the inherent virtues of dual language education, but to which communities are well organized and can lobby effectively? And that no expansion will ever take place in Seattle other than Asian languages and Spanish? I thought so."

I offer this quote:

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

― Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings

Many Dual Language programs across the country offer Dual Language programs other than Chinese and Spanish. I have heard, for example, of programs in NYC, Utah and North Carolina in Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, German, and French. Highline recently started a Dual Language program in Vietnamese. There is no reason more languages could not be offered in Seattle, but yes, it would take some effort.