The dual language education program of Delavan-Darien School District: a case of Latino community leadership
On May 19, 2014, the Delavan-Darien School Board of Wisconsin voted 5-2 in favor of installing a Dual Language Immersion Program. This victory of the Latino community in a small district was not easy and speaks of a valuable experience in advocacy and mobilization. The district's student outcomes are worrying: the combined results in 2013-2014 of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment are the poorest in the state. This situation has raised questions about the cultural and linguistic relevance of the education provided in the district. The monolingual model was not recognizing the diversity of the student population, and a large percentage of first- and second-generation immigrant students were failing in the school system. That is why a group of parents initiated a series of actions to establish a dual language education program. The demand for dual language education in Delavan-Darien can be analyzed in three phases: 1. Raising awareness around the exclusion of the Latino community in regards to the available educational options: At this stage, the Latino community leaders got organized to push for dual language education in the context of the school district's 2011 strategic plan. 2. The political-administrative transition of the district and re-launching of the campaign: The change of leadership in the district and school board elections in 2012 meant that Latino leaders had to reinforce and build upon their progress made the previous year, and defend the priority to open spaces for the Latino community in the school system. 3. Opening and consolidation of an institutional setting for the Latino community: The Latino community's advocacy and lobbying was able to make progress towards their goals. This included the Board's approval to develop a dual language education program, the creation of the Director of Language Acquisition and Community Education (of Latino origin) position, and parent invitations to participate in interviews for the director and new teacher hires. The installation of the program was in progress during the 2014-2015 school year, when there were 160 students participating in the first generation of the Dual Language Educational Program of the Delavan-Darien School District.