In Miami, School aims for ‘Biliterate’ Education

At Corral Way Elementary School in Miami-Dade County, morning classes are conducted in Spanish, and afternoon classes are conducted in English. In one fourth-grade class, reading assignments, science, math and social studies lessons are entirely in Spanish. The principal, Josephine Otero, is one of a long line of bilingual principals at this school that is considered a “gold standard” of public bilingual education in America. Majority of the 1,500 students are low-income, but their test scores are among the highest in the city. After eighth grade, many go on to Miami’s top private and public high schools. Some take up a third and fourth language. America has around 440 public bilingual immersion schools across the country, up from only a handful in the seventies. However California, Arizona, Colorado and Massachusetts have banned bilingual immersion programs because majority of the voters in these places don’t think children can learn proper English and hold on to a foreign language and culture at the same time. It’s an in issue that gets caught up in the angry debate over illegal immigration, especially Spanish-speaking immigrants.