Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bilingual field experience #4

This one isn’t a field experience per se. Though I know the student and her family much better than any of the other kids I’ve discussed here. They are friends of mine. Their oldest girl is the student I observed. We’ll call her Gabby because that isn’t her name (or her temperament).

Gabby did three years of bilingual education in elementary school, and frankly, it was a year too much for her. She quickly learned English, partly because that was a priority for her parents. And she was a fine student all around.

They lived a few blocks from the library so Gabby would spend a lot of time there. She loved books. She would later volunteer at the library.

So, the school district wanted to have a Gifted Bilingual Program to meet the needs of students who were bright but still needed language support. They went to Gabby and her family and begged her to enroll in the program, even though she hadn’t been in a bilingual class for six years! The family refused. Their daughter had already been in a number of accelerated and gifted classes as a mainstream student.

The district continued to beg, saying that she would be an asset to the program. But the family held firm. Gabby held firm. She was part of the regular program and doing well. Why would she want to go back to bilingual anything? (To make the district look good, that’s why!)

Gabby went on to an international studies program in her high school and was later accepted at a well-respected university. Gabby is doing just fine, thank you.

The moral of this story is that school districts sometimes do self-serving things, even if it isn't for the benefit of the student. Parents need to be firm if they feel their child is being used by the system.

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