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Milwaukee Public Schools bilingual program helps students compete in a global economy

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 22:28:43-05

MILWAUKEE, WI - Spanish, German, and French are all languages taught in Milwaukee Public Schools and for good reason.

Bilingual programs are critical in a growing and more diverse society, and with open enrollment for MPS kicking off in just a few weeks now is a good time for parents to start thinking about schools for their students. 

"Sometimes people do not speak English," said 4th-grade student, Kimberly Isidoro. "So we need to know Spanish."

That's why the curriculum at Allen-Field Elementary highlights the Milwaukee Public School District’s Spanish-English bilingual program —the district also offers ESL learning along with dozens of other language immersion programs helping students, at a young age, become more marketable in a global economy.

“We as bilinguals are able to travel to so many different countries around the world," said 4th-grade bilingual teacher, Martha Lopez. "And the ability to communicate with other people is so important." 

Especially in a country that is more diverse than ever before. In fact, according to the U.S. Census, there are about 58 million Hispanic people living in the U.S. This ethnic group also is the second fastest growing minority population in Wisconsin with nearly 400,000 people.

“It is our federal right for students to be taught and instructed in their native language," Lopez said. 

That’s why the district takes their bilingual multicultural program so seriously while also offering cross-cultural competence from elementary school to high school and a place for students to learn in a supportive environment. 

“What [the program] aims to do is build biliteracy and biculturalism," said Principal Fritz Blandon. "By slowly, over the years, increasing the amount of English language learning."

MPS generally accepts between 200 to 250 students during the open enrollment application period.