"Dual-Language" School Proposed

Alderman targets Southwest side site

Flanked by more than a dozen parents and school council members from the 22nd Ward, Ald. Ricardo Munoz on Wednesday detailed his plans for a new “dual-language” high school on the city’s Southwest Side.

Since November, when the Chicago Board of Education approved purchase of a 16.3-acre site for school construction at the corner of 31st Street and Kostner Avenue, Munoz has been working on a proposal he says will greatly benefit students in the rapidly growing Latino community.

Unlike bilingual education classrooms, where students are taught in their native language until they can learn English, dual-language schools teach students in both their native language and English, he said during an afternoon press conference outside Whitney Public School, 2815 S. Komensky Ave.

And although some studies show that students in dual-languages classes have more difficulty learning English, Munoz maintains that when properly implemented, the classes are widely successful.

“It’s the wave of the future,” he said. “In no way is it a barrier.” Students who fluently speak two or more languages are better suited for the workplace and are an asset to their employers, he said.

Schools Chief Paul Vallas declined to comment until he has a chance to thoroughly read the proposal. “We have to sit down and get input from a number of people before we make any final decisions on this,” he said. “We’re very supportive of promoting foreign languages in schools, but any high school that’s built has to meet stringent academic standards.”

Munoz’s proposal calls for a school that would serve 1,600 to 1,800 students, be “community friendly,” so that Little Village residents and area organizations could utilize the gymnasium or auditorium after hours, and house four different small schools within the school. The schools would specialize in dual languages; international baccalaureate college preparatory education; vocational education; and performing arts. Ideally, each school would have about 400 students, he said.

He vowed to continue to push for support of the proposed high school, which could cost at least $30 million to build.

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