Bilingual, Biliterate, Bicultural. San Antonio’s School District Dual Language Program

When in 2021, 23 young people, enrolled in the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) Dual Language Program, received their graduation diplomas, history was made.

They were the first class to graduate from this program in SAISD. According to Luz García Martín, this triumph was the result of a “story that is told beautifully,” but it had its pitfalls or the typical difficulties faced by paradigm-shifting proposals.

The Dual Language Program has developed steadily between 2016 and 2022, growing in this time from two to 61 schools. In its classrooms studied those 23 young graduates who also represent the demographics of SAISD: 90.4% of the school district’s students are Hispanic, and 90% live in economically disadvantaged circumstances. The SAISD demographics echo those collected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), whose Emergent Bilingual Support Division states that one in five students in Texas is emergent bilingual, that is, students who learn and use a language other than English at home and receive formal English education in school, and represent 20% of all students in the state (English Learner Support Division, 2022). For this reason, the Texas Education Code states that, although English is the state’s basic language, public schools must provide bilingual education and special language programs for these students:

By Zoraida J. Serrano-Vega

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