DeLaveaga Elementary reaches out for more Spanish-speakers in dual-immersion

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jun 23 17:40:09 UTC 2007

June 22, 2007

* DeLaveaga Elementary reaches out for more Spanish-speakers in
dual-immersion*By Matt King
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — The bilingual program at DeLaveaga Elementary is part of a
broader effort to help turn hundreds of Santa Cruz City Schools'
Spanish-speakers into literate and fluent English-speakers. But in the
program's first four years, it's been more popular in families where English
is already a dominant language. The program's success hinges on a better mix
of English and Spanish-speakers, Principal David Freed said.

"We need dominant English-speakers, dominant Spanish-speakers and bilingual
students to act as a kind of broker between the two," Freed said. "In a
community such as this, which is English-dominant, it's critical we have

*Related story:* Santa Cruz looks to open bilingual

The school has tried to attract an equal number of English- and
Spanish-speakers each year, but more English-speakers have enrolled in the
program. Of the 152 kids in dual-immersion, 92 are already considered
proficient in English. Of the 37 in this year's second-grade class, 70
percent were fluent English-speakers. Parents and educators pin the changes
on several factors, including the program's move from the now-closed
Branciforte Elementary to DeLaveaga, which is farther from Spanish-speaking
neighborhoods; a surprisingly large number of students who come from
bilingual families who speak English as well as Spanish; and demand from
English-speaking families. When the program started, the school accepted
students from other districts; new families must live in Santa Cruz City
Schools' boundaries.

"It's a school of choice and it attracts parents who want something
different for their children and can't afford private school," said Shannon
McCord, a Live Oak resident with two kids in dual-immersion. "It's a new
program and you figure out what you need to do as it grows" McCord is part
of a group of parents, teachers and administrators charged with plotting the
future of the program, which will grow into the fourth-grade next year with
several changes designed to balance English and Spanish-speaking students.

This spring, school leaders visited Latino neighborhoods in Beach Flats and
Live Oak to spread the word about dual-immersion and, for the first time,
gave prospective students exams to test their language skills. Previously,
parents were allowed to assess their kids' English abilities. We're trying
to make a personal connection with people in the community," Freed said.
"What we've found is making a personal outreach makes a difference, and word
of mouth travels fast through the community about the value of the program"

Contact Matt King at
mking at<mking at
Elementary reaches out for
more Spanish-speakers in dual-immersion>.

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