Reviewed by: Council on Anthropology and Education
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Social movements
Bilingual education programs are not new in the context of the United States. What is new is the proliferation of a particular type of bilingual education program–dual language or two-way immersion programs–that appeals to White, middle-class and affluent families. Flores and García (2017) describe this current iteration of bilingual education as “boutique” programs, which focus on “‘selling’ bilingualism to powerful consumers.” In this particular framing of bilingual education, language is a commodity that will give White, English-speaking students especially, economic advantages in a globalizing neoliberal world. This framing is very different from that of the bilingual education programs established during the Civil Rights era by Latinx communities, which were founded on the belief that minoritized communities had a right to educate their children in their home language. In this roundtable, anthropologists of education from across the United States will take a critical look at schools with Dual Language Bilingual Education (DLBE) programs in their local communities. In particular, they will reflect on who is advocating for and participating in these programs, where schools are located, language ideologies embedded in program design, and who is considered to be the ideal Dual Language teacher. Uniquely equipped as anthropologists to explore the relationships between language, power, status, privilege, and schooling, the presenters will explore the mechanisms that have contributed to this shift within their particular sociocultural and historical context, what has been the resistance to this shift, and what are the resulting consequences for language minoritized students and local communities related to this shift. Roundtable presenters and attendees alike will also explore actions that can be taken to ensure equitable participation of language minoritized students in DLBE programs as well as steps that can be taken to connect advocacy for these programs with advocacy “for larger social transformation” (Flores, 2017). A key element in striving for larger social transformation is through the intentional centering of DLBE programs around critical consciousness, the fourth pillar in bilingual contexts (Cervantes-Soon et al., 2017). Due to the current “boutique” phenomenon there is an urgent need to extend DLBE’s traditional pillars of academic rigor, bilingualism/biculturalism, and multicultural competence, into more critical terrain, as there is greater potential to foment a “race radical” (Flores, 2016) vision of DLBE that prioritizes the realities and histories of Latinx communities. Despite the inequalities that have revealed an expanding “gentrification” of DLBE (Valdez et al., 2014), it is crucial to highlight the hopeful, equity-driven and resilience-fostering possibilities that can take root when the fourth pillar is the guiding pillar in DLBE contexts (Heiman & Yanes, forthcoming).