Fighting for Spanish to English Education

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

They say love is the international language and now parents and students from Barbour Elementary School are fighting to save the international language program they love.
"The people are just the heart, the different children that are there, they're learning from them. They have hispanic friends, they have black friends, they have white friends and they don't even see anything," says Barbour parent Vicky Tuschen.
Under the proposals to transition Rockford elementary schools from modified school choice to attendance zones, Barbour's two-way spanish language immersion program would move to either Bloom or Spring Creek Elementary. Also it would only provide english to spanish education, dropping the spanish to english component that helps Spanish-speaking students preserve their language and culture as they integrate into English-speaking society.
That differs from the district's bilingual program that weans foreign speaking students off their native language, then teaches them only in English. The move would also cut the interaction between native English- and Spanish-speaking students out of the immersion program.
"It'll be a devastating blow to this program. That takes away the Spanish that our children are learning on the playground, in the lunchroom, in their special classes, the art, the music," says Barbour parent Dina Sipiora.
School district leaders say they want to make the program more centrally located because right now too many neighborhood students are attending Barbour, so it's not reaching students who truly want to seek out the program and it's not performing as the district had hoped. But parents say the school has made state-standards for adequate yearly progress the last three years and now they want more answers.
"Who says this is a better program and what data is the school board looking at to say what we're giving our kids currently is not servicing them," says Barbour parent Monica Primm.
Barbour parents are holding an emergency P.T.P. meeting Monday to talk about this issue. They'll meet from 6:00 to 7:30 in the Barbour school cafeteria.


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