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Chicago preschools may be required to offer bilingual programs

Bilingual Education in Chicago Schools
Bilingual Education in Chicago Schools
Tal Iesin

Currently, Chicago schools have the authority to decide whether or not to offer a bilingual program on an individual basis. Schools that do not offer a bilingual program usually employ an aide or have a parent volunteer in the classroom to help communicate with those children who do not speak English.

Back in March, 2010, the Illinois State Board of Education had intended to vote on a new policy requiring that all state-funded preschools must provide official bilingual programs by 2014. This proposal was so controversial – mainly due to cost and the difficulty of finding qualified teachers, that it was pulled off the agenda at the eleventh hour.

Under the proposed policy, preschool programs with at least 20 students who speak the same non-English language would be required to teach students in the language spoken at home. Those with 19 or fewer students would teach in English with a specialized English as a Second Language curriculum.

Advocates of bilingual education view the proposed change as a positive one – being of the opinion that putting children in all-English classes without additional help does not allow for these children to succeed in school.

This Illinois State Board of Education’s proposal is up for approval again later this month.