Houston parents concerned about changes to HISD dual language program

Some parents in Houston's Spanish-speaking communities are concerned about changes to the city's dual language program.

Under the new plan, instruction at schools like Pugh Elementary would be in English, and later supplemented in Spanish.

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This has parents like Jessica Campos worried. Her daughter attends Pugh, a school in Northeast Houston where 67% of the students are Spanish-speaking.

"Dual, what does it mean, it's two, right?" Campos asks. "It's English and Spanish, or Vietnamese and English. We want English and Spanish equal, so our school was learning English alongside Spanish, equally. That's what we want to continue."

Campos is afraid that the new plan will mean less emphasis on her daughter's native language.

"I'm afraid they're going to take away our language," she says. "It's important to me because everyone in my community speaks Spanish."

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Former District Board Trustee Dr. Sergio Lira agrees with Campos. He says that the new plan could possibly undermine state laws that protect bilingual students.

"If they're going to change this program, they need to look carefully at state law, or else they will probably be challenged by the Office of Civil Rights," Lira says. "If you have a student that just came from Honduras or Venezuela, asylum seekers, you give them a test in English, the likelihood of passing is just like me taking an exam in Japanese."

Melissa Yarbrough has two children at Pugh Elementary. She says that dual language is important for her family, as her husband speaks Spanish, primarily.

"I think a lot of it goes back to not understanding the community, not checking in with the community ahead of time," Yarbrough says. "I think that as they're learning what parents want and are demanding from their school that our population specifically demands dual language at the school."

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Pugh is also an NES campus, and one of the 28 schools that will be without their library and a certified librarian in the fall semester.

Yarbrough says that she is concerned about the future of the dual language program at Pugh Elementary. She is also concerned about the fact that the school will be without its library and a certified librarian in the fall semester.

"I think it's really important for our students to have access to books, and to have a certified librarian who can help them learn and grow," Yarbrough says.