Natalie Gross of the Hechinger Report finds that dual language programs are having a profound impact on D.C.’s low-income minority students. Bilingualism has been linked to improved academic and social skills and has identified as one of the many teaching methods that can close the achievement gap while making students more prepared to compete in the workforce.
Houston Charter School is nestled in the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Its dual-language program is the first to be offered in the area east of the Anacostia River, home to what can be described as the city’s two poorest wards. The school’s student body is almost entirely African-American. It is one of the growing number of schools targeting bilingual instruction to black children in low-income areas. Its Spanish-English program opened at the preschool level this school year and is already making significant strides.
These programs are not lost on parents who have their children on waiting lists to participate. Jimell Sanders, a Houston parent and co-founder of the nonprofit DC Language Immersion Project, described how both wealthy and low income African-American parents are extremely interested in bilingual learning in the classroom.
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