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For Immediate Release: May 18, 2022
Contact: Tara Cristi Creative | 917-865-8665
South Kingstown Ends DLI Program Despite Community Support
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI— Representatives of the South Kingstown School Board voted in a short-notice meeting to end the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program across three schools, despite widespread community support for the program. This comes after countless meetings with the community and stakeholders to find ways to preserve the program, which is cherished throughout the town and serves as a magnet for new families to relocate to South Kingstown, a district that is suffering a decline in enrollment. The decision affects approximately 500 students and removes the DLI learning opportunity for all future students. Many members were questioning if the move was due to racial bias.
Members of the community were shocked to learn that the DLI program, which was positively evaluated and recommended by an independent consultant, and widely supported by educators, parents, and students, was ended Monday night in a swift executive committee session at South Kingstown High School. Immediately after the session closed, the information was disclosed to the public.
“This motion should have been voted down or tabled due to lack of fact-checked, valid information. It should have been sent back to the administration to try to find scenarios that were viable based on the charge of redistricting. This vote was unprofessional and unethical. Taxpayer money was spent on a highly qualified consultant who was hired in good faith in hopes of keeping the DLI program,” Vanessa Armano, DLI parent.
Chad Ranson of Compass Edvantage was hired to objectively evaluate the program. A former classroom teacher, instructional coach, building principal, and program administrator, Ranson’s findings about the program were generally positive across the board. Ranson summarized in a 16-page report that: “There are a number of key improvements that need to be made for the dual immersion program to continue being successful...Fortunately, none of the identified areas of need require intensive change.”
“Members of the school committee have created the narrative that eliminating the DLI program would establish equity across the board when this is not the case, and they have put other programs on the chopping block. Instead, eliminating the DLI program directly impacts the equity that was established for Hispanic and LatinX teachers and students,” Rebecca Visaggio, DLI parent.
“Effectively with the ending of the DLI program, South Kingstown has ordered layoffs of LatinX and Spanish DLI educators and assistants—a failure to meet Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) objectives of a diverse workforce. Other districts, like Woonsocket, are achieving RIDE objectives and paying for the DLI program. Why can’t South Kingstown? What a lack of transparency and leadership. said Aymar Ccopacatty, DLI parent.
The goals of DLI are to create multiple entries points for students to enter into a world language course pathway beginning early in their educational experience and to develop a high level of proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading and writing in English and Spanish, as well as to develop cultural literacy, self-esteem, and leadership skills. The program is built to prepare students for bilingual college and career options leading to employment in a global economy. The South Kingstown DLI program offers a 50/50 immersion model with instructional time divided between an English-speaking certified teacher providing 50% of the instruction and a Spanish-speaking certified teacher providing the remaining 50% of the instruction.
For more information about the South Kingstown DLI program, please click here.
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