The Miami Herald, 04/01/2015 6:04 PM
We, the members of Council 7232 and Council 7233 of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a group of community activists, are concerned about the phasing out of Spanish and Spanish SL programs through the expansion of the Extended Foreign Language (EFL) Program across our schools in Miami-Dade.
Although in theory the EFL Program seems exceptional, its implementation fails to meet the needs of all students.
Miami-Dade Public Schools values itself in the countless world language programs offered to meet the needs of a diverse community. Without a doubt, these programs are essential for our ELL (English Language Learners) population to access a quality education. Furthermore, we are cognizant as to the benefits of being bilingual and biliterate and the opportunities to those who are fluent in two or more languages.
Let’s not forget that Miami-Dade is the gateway for many international countries and therefore, being bilingual may pave the way for many of our students to compete in our global market and economy. Undoubtedly, phasing out Spanish and Spanish SL will harm more students by precluding them from competing in our global economy for better job opportunities.
Restricting programs to a selected few will pose an equity issue and will disenfranchise many students. We all know that EFL is not being offered in all schools and to all students. Once students reach a level of proficiency in English, Spanish classes may not be available. Furthermore, in some cases students are turned away from the program due to limited space. Non-Speakers of Spanish are currently left without options as they see Spanish SL being phased out.
Additionally, the number of linguistically qualified teachers dictates the continuance and success of the program. Consequently, the reality is that many teachers across our district are assigned to teach the Spanish component of EFL while not being linguistically qualified, a major weakness of the program. It is regrettable that Spanish teachers in elementary schools and across the district are not required to be certified in Spanish. Being able to speak Spanish does not mean that one is qualified to teach its grammar, orthography, and literature.
It’s our hope that students are afforded the opportunity to take Spanish/Spanish SL at the elementary level. It is obvious that EFL expansion should not and cannot replace our standard Spanish programs.
We look forward to working with MDCPS on exploring solutions to this unfortunate situation while achieving ways to help promote the value of bilingualism in our schools and communities. We respectfully hope that Miami-Dade Public Schools and School Board consider our concerns and make all efforts to maintain our Spanish and Spanish SL programs in all of our public schools.
Libby Perez, president 7232