Learning a new language could be daunting and especially more challenging for new immigrants that not only come face to face with a new culture, but to a totally different environment. Most times children adapt easily, but in the case of English Language Learners, the assimilating process may take longer than most, particularly when the primary language spoken at home is not English.
While I enthusiastically support the idea of more dual immersion schools, I also believe that the problems facing English Language Learners in Connecticut are so complex and urgent that they require a broad set of solutions and initiatives.
Research confirms that good dual language programs are effective in closing the achievement gap and promote brain development for all students. It is also evident that both majority and minority children benefit from dual language programs by preserving their culture and opening new possibilities in a global world.
Connecticut’s school policies don’t value the language and the culture that English language learners bring to the societal table. Said differently, the people who make laws and set educational policies along with those who oversee educating our children — legislators, voters, commissioners of education, union officials, boards of education members and superintendents of schools — don’t value immigrants.
Fairfield County, a region marked by sharp disparities in income and in urban and suburban life, faces particular challenges in assuring all its residents a quality education. Today, a special report, “Education, Diversity and Change in Fairfield County,” explores the issue through in-depth policy reporting, interactive maps and charts, photo galleries and opinion pieces written by teachers from the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University.