A Critical Review of the History of Bilingual Education in the US
Thursday, February 15 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm
This is a talk hosted by the Department of Applied Linguistics, and the talk will be given by Dr. Ofelia García from the City University of New York.
Abstract: This critical review will look at the promises of the beginning of institutionalized bilingual education in the 20th century, as well as the pitfalls into which it has fallen. We begin with the struggles of the mostly Chicano, Puerto Rican and Native American communities to educate their own children bilingually, and we focus on the support they received from government and scholars outside of the community. We provide evidence from bilingual education programs in NYC run by Latinx educators and parents during the 1970s and early 1980s, where Latinx children were often relegated to basements, but were seen as normal capable children. We compare this early ideology on bilingual education with the one that has been produced as it has been professionalized, and especially as education success started to be measured through standardized tests in English only.
From normal children, minoritized children in bilingual education programs today are pathologized. Labels and categories have proliferated: newcomers, long term English language learners, Students with Interrupted Education (SIFE), English language learners with disabilities, Former ELLs. Even though these labels are not helpful to students or teachers, it normalizes the quantification of academic success through standardized assessment instruments that have little validity for this population, taking away their humanity, their childhood, their ability to exist and learn bilingually. The professionalization of bilingual education seems to have worked for white middle class parents who clamor for the so called dual language programs. But it has diminished minoritized Latinx children even beyond the basements in which we found them originally.
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