Eight more elementary schools in Chicago will offer the popular dual language instruction program next school year, the school district announced Wednesday. That will bring the number of schools that offer both English and Spanish instruction to 35, twice as many as in 2016.
The district chose locations for its newest dual language programs, which are in high demand districtwide, from among campuses applying to add new academic offerings.
Chicago’s newest dual language schools will be Alfred Nobel Elementary School in West Humboldt Park, Dr. Jorge Prieto Elementary School in Belmont-Cragin, Frederick Funston Elementary School in Logan Square, George Rogers Clark Elementary School in Austin, Grover Cleveland Elementary School in Irving Park, Socorro Sandoval Elementary School in Gage Park, William G. Hibbard Elementary School in Albany Park, and William P. Nixon Elementary School in Hermosa.
With nearly 20 percent of district students speaking two languages at home, dual language programs offer students the chance to expand their language capabilities. Almost half the district’s students are Hispanic.
“The strength of our district lies in its diversity and the rich educational environments created when students from a variety of backgrounds learn together and develop a shared cultural understanding,” said Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson in a statement.
Dual language programs begin in either pre-K or kindergarten and are open to all children, including native English and Spanish speakers. The programs offer instruction in both languages.
Last month, the Chicago school district offered schools the chance to apply to host new academic programs, with dual language among them.
When announcing the application process, Jackson said that additional funding, including federal money, would be routed to schools that won program bids.
Wednesday’s announcement did not mention funding for the new programs. The district did not immediately respond to questions today.
Dual language programs also help diversify the teaching force. Research suggests having teachers students can identify with can encourage students to show up to class more often, test better and even improve graduation rates. Chalkbeat Chicago reported from one high school at Back of the Yards that’s in the midst of implementing a new dual language program.
The Chicago Teachers Union agreed with the plan to add more dual language programs, but noted that a Chicago Reporter investigation had found 71 percent of bilingual programs in Chicago in violation of state law and that these programs are chronically understaffed.
“Too often, students do not have access to books and other materials in their native languages,” union President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement, “just as the district provides little guidance or support for teachers when it comes to curricula in students’ native languages.”
This story was updated to reflect that George Rogers Clark Elementary School is in Chicago not Oak Park.