The District of Columbia Council is seeking more bilingual education, and a measure supported by a majority of the council would increase the number of schools in the district that educate students in languages besides English.
D.C. Council member Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4) wrote the bill, and it would call for D.C. Public Schools to create additional bilingual schools or programs in each of Washington’s 8 wards by the time of the 2020-2021 academic year. The bill also calls on the mayor to convene a task force and develop a plan to triple the number of dual-language immersions seats available in D.C. schools by the year 2025.
ProEnglish long has advocated for English language immersion programs as far superior to bilingual education programs for students for whom English is not the native language, in order not to relegate such students to a linguistic ghetto in which they are destined for a poorer-quality educational experience and the strong likelihood of lower-paying job opportunities upon graduation.
Bilingual education programs fail to teach students the English language and literacy skills that they need for academic and professional success. Segregation by language and ethnicity does not lead to higher academic performance, and delaying the learning of English holds back student achievement. Graduating from school without fluency and literacy in English severely deprives students of a world of greater academic and professional opportunities in the United States and elsewhere.
English language immersion programs offer students the opportunity to study English intensively and to learn how to speak, read, and write the language on a fast-track basis. English language immersion programs offer students the best chances for higher-quality educational experiences and a greater likelihood of higher-paying job and professional opportunities upon graduation.
The District of Columbia Council would be doing its students a far greater service by focusing more on English language immersion programs rather than bilingual education programs.