Preparing School Leaders for Dual Language Programs in Rural Settings

Preparing School Leaders for Dual Language Programs in Rural Settings

Marjorie Campo Ringler, Karen D. Jones
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2787-0.ch016
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The existing curriculum in public education needs to change to incorporate bilingual and bicultural education to address the needs of the growing Hispanic population that tend to settle in rural communities. Dual language education research indicates that students that are bilingual show higher levels of achievement than their monolingual peers. These programs are not widely implemented in rural regions of eastern North Carolina because school leaders are not aware of the research and benefits. This chapter describes an approach an educational leadership program took to educate practicing administrators about dual language education. The research results led to creation of a professional certificate accessible to administrators in rural regions.
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The population in the United States continues to become more ethnically diverse due to immigration patterns and differential birth rates among Hispanic and immigrant populations. In 2017 the Hispanic population of the United States constituted 18.1% of the entire nation (U.S. Census, 2018a). Hispanics are residing in many areas but there are some states that are getting the largest influx. States like Arizona, California, Colorado, and Florida have populations of a million or more Hispanic residents. North Carolina is a few residents short of reaching one million residents (U.S. Census, 2018a). The change in ethnic demographics in the US is also reflected in the public schools. In addition to the increasing rate of Hispanic children, the children in poverty are increasing nationally. According to the U.S. Census (2018b), Hispanics accounted for 27.2% of the total population in poverty in 2017. These changing demographics have created an increase in the number of students that are likely to be English language learners (ELs) in schools in that nation. ELs, like all students, require differentiation of instruction, but the problem is exacerbated by their rapid rate of increase (Freeman Field, 2008; Fry, 2008). The change in EL population is alarming because the classrooms are becoming more ethnically diverse yet teaching practices and teacher training are not changing accordingly.

Many of these Hispanic students reside in rural communities and therefore the change in demographics in these areas is significant. Rural areas are experiencing one-third to one-half of a county’s population to be Hispanic/Latinos (U.S. Census, 2018c). Dual Language programs in rural poverty provide a way to honor a large majority of its community members by continuing to grow students’ native language as they learn the English language. Dual Language research has shown that Dual Language education promotes higher levels of academic achievement in both the partner language and the English language in a variety of contexts, especially in high risk schools and schools with economically disadvantaged students (Lindohlm-Leary, 2001; Thomas & Collier, 2012). Rural schools are more likely to enroll children of poverty because their parents often work in low paying jobs such as farming and small food factories. Urban schools in the US are showing significant growth in Dual Language education programs. In urban schools, educators and parent see the benefits of Dual Language programs and advocate for them in school. In contrast, rural schools are not opening these programs since neither the principal nor teachers have been fully prepared in higher education and/or professional development to engage families with diverse cultural backgrounds. School-aged students in rural settings have background knowledge that is often different from the background knowledge needed to understand school textbooks, thus presenting a challenge of building vocabulary to better access the mandated curriculum. In rural schools, professional challenges are substantial, educators often have limited geographic access to professional development that addresses their specific context. Due to the isolation of rural schools, there are fewer professional development opportunities. Administrators and teachers often have little to no continuing education since their undergraduate teacher education or school administration program.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Poverty: Families with income less than that deemed sufficient to purchase basic needs essentials such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Rural Poverty: Poverty that occurs in rural areas with low population size. In rural areas families have less access to services and quality education.

Rural Schools: Schools located in remote geographical locations where the distance to an urban city is over 100 miles.

Dual Language Education: Programs designed to teach school academics in English and in another language.

English Learner: Students in the US that come from a home where a language other than English is spoken. These students are not proficient in English yet are learning their academics in the English language.

Monolingual Students: Students that grow up in the US and English is the main or only language spoken.

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