Rescue Dual Language in DG58 - Retract the Pause for Kindergarten Enrollment for 2021/22

Rescue Dual Language in DG58 - Retract the Pause for Kindergarten Enrollment for 2021/22

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Francisco Medrano started this petition to Downers Grove School District 58 & School Board

On May 13th, the Downers Grove School District 58 administrators shared that they will pause kindergarten registration into the Dual-Language program next year 2021/22 and will also make significant changes to the curriculum.

This change was unannounced and not consulted with the parents or the community at large.  I did not find any public presentations to the board regarding the curriculum change or pause.  Data regarding the program's results and the direct, expected results from the pause were not available. The only justification was to avoid a commitment to the program for the incoming kindergarten class. 

The program is already in the pre-approved budget; it accounts for only 1.4% of the instructional budget. Teachers are ready and available to work next year as they were this year.

As parents, we are faced with going into the summer not knowing if siblings will be split into a home school for kindergarten and the dual-language program school. Young children going to different schools present logistical challenges. Last year, the parents accepted a change to separate the upper grades of the program from the lower grades; this year the district is adding a kindergarten separation.  There will possibly be parents with three kids in three different schools with three different bus routes, all between K-5th grade. 

The current 70% Spanish / 30% English dual language model is preferred for Spanish speakers incorporation into English. It staggers as they progress in elementary school with an eventual 50% / 50% split before middle school. The curriculum change to a 50% / 50% split was made on the basis to expand the English learning to more dual-language students and incorporating them into more of the school offerings. I like the idea of the new split but I also want to know the curriculum theory and desired outcome from this change. From my understanding, the 50%/50% model is best for two-way programs where there is a combination of Spanish and English speakers in a class. The school district did not articulate how this change will impact new and existing students' learning progress and the expected academic results from the change.

Most decisions at the district level use data to find the best course of action. There is limited data available regarding the decision to pause the dual-language program.  As parents, we only see our own children's results and MAP scores.  We are interested in knowing how the program is doing and how the parents/teachers/administrators plan to support any deficiencies. Over the past two school years, I was not aware of any issues with the childrens' performance or the program's performance as a whole.  I searched for presentations or reports shared with the board and did not find any.  The dual-language parents are satisfied with the services and performance.  We ask the school district to gather and present relevant data about the program before making a decision to pause enrollment or more reasonably find alternative solutions that are not a pause to confront challenges.

The district mentions inconsistencies in enrollment as important data to determine the future of the program but they have not gathered enrollment projections or created targeted campaigns to attract more enrollment.  The district regularly sends messages for parents to join the Grove Preschool, summer classes, extracurricular activities, PTA groups/meetings, and other community events but does not send messages at the district or school level to attract Spanish-speaking families who may meet the criteria to consider the dual language program.  It does not post the programs offering in school buildings and does not provide online resources such as a website or social media posts regarding the program as it does with other programs.  The district did not contact families with siblings in the program to determine how many plan to enter kindergarten in the upcoming years. The district did not consider expanding the criteria for the program in order to boost enrollment. The projected enrollment and marketing efforts can help build enrollment numbers for students entering kindergarten/1st grade as initial dual language learners or attract dual-language transfers from other districts. Please help us encourage the school district to apply the same level of marketing and enrollment initiatives and creativity afforded to the other district programs to the dual-language program. 

From the inception of the dual language program, there was always a goal to have it evolve into a two-way program with both Spanish and English-speaking students. Per educational professionals, the two-way approach realizes the maximum benefits to students as the presence of native speakers of both language groups makes the environment more conducive to second language learning. In my personal experience with my daughter, she has just finished kindergarten and has learned everything a typical kindergartener knows but in both Spanish and English. This benefit should be an option to any parent in our school district that believes in the value of biliteracy and how it will provide our children with an advantage for a more global environment. Please request that the district survey district families to better understand the interest in a two-way dual-language program.

There are many pressing topics and opportunities for the district to set the dual-language program up for success.  The dual-language program should have strong, consistent, and empowered leadership to make more decisions about its curriculum and to have dedicated support resources same as other programs do in the district. The program should be positioned as a program for excellence rather than a support service; DG58 has the opportunity to develop dual-language children from both English and Spanish-speaking families.  Most importantly, the dual-language program should have the opportunity to teach children while the future of the program is defined. The pause to enrollment sets the program back and makes an eventual return more difficult.  The fact-finding mission of the district and kindergarten grade levels can and should co-exist.

We ask the DG58 community to listen to our concerns.  As parents, we have been rushed into accepting a decision that was not based on data and that puts at risk a valuable and successful program. The pause is counterproductive to determining the future of the dual-language program.  If there is a decision to pause the dual-language program it should be based on data, educational theory, intended results, and parent/community/teacher/administrator/school board input.

Please sign this petition and help us deliver a strong message to the administration and board to RETRACT THE PAUSE TO KINDERGARTEN ENROLLMENT INTO THE DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAM and to urge the school district to manage the dual language program, parents, and students with the same timely communication and input as other programs are afforded. 

Together we can impact change and drive equitable treatment for all.

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