Administrators are recommending that two strands of TWI be established at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies. The recommendation and reasons for it are quoted below. The recommendation will be discussed at the Board’s Nov. 6 meeting.
“After carefully gathering data and considering sites, District 65 is recommending adding two two-way immersion strands to Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies. The recommendation is to start TWI in the kindergarten classes at Bessie Rhodes in the fall of 2018. One grade level would be added annually through 8th grade. Over the next two years, District 65 will move forward with researching and building expertise with the goal of adding a two-way immersion/dual language program in the middle school grades in District 65.
“This site recommendation is being made for several reasons:
1. There is strong alignment between the goals for the two way immersion program and the global studies school focus. The recommendation includes replacing Mandarin with Spanish instruction in the non-TWI grades. The addition of Spanish will communicate school-wide value in the Spanish language and the Latino and Afro-Latino culture school-wide.
2. Expanding TWI at Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies provides an opportunity to create a school with wall to wall dual language (TWI) programming where instruction throughout the school is provided in English and Spanish. This creates a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students and expands opportunity for instruction in Spanish in content areas beyond math, science, social studies, and literacy.
3. Bessie Rhodes has an attendance preference area in the 5th ward which is populated by predominantly Black and Latino families creating opportunity for native English speaking Black families to have increased access to TWI.
4. Adding TWI strands at Bessie Rhodes addresses a growing population of native Spanish speakers in north Evanston where District 65 currently offers one TWI strand (Willard).
5. The addition of TWI to a magnet school allows for both strands to be added in the same year without eliminating a neighborhood school which would be the outcome if a non-magnet school is converted from offering dual language (TWI) and monolingual education strands to dual language only.
6. With an average class size of 19, Bessie Rhodes has opportunity to more fully maximize enrollment.
“In addition to recommending Bessie Rhodes as the site for two new TWI strands, this memo is also recommending that the additional steps are taken: 1. Additional family engagement and transportation funds of $7,500 are budgeted annually for Bessie Rhodes focused on supporting community engagement events and transportation for families to these community events. The goal is to ensure that families are supported in engaging with the school community despite the fact that they may live in different parts of the city and have limited transportation options. Ninety-two percent of native Spanish speaking families currently in TWI are classified as free and reduced lunch and there is a desire to support these families by reducing barriers for participation.
2. Review and recommend changes to the magnet school and programs policy 7:32 at an upcoming policy meeting including but not limited to adding a preference for younger siblings of families currently enrolled at Bessie Rhodes for preferential admission to TWI at Bessie Rhodes ahead of sibling priority. The goal of this policy revision is to support families who are currently enrolled and committed to Bessie Rhodes to have a greater likelihood for younger siblings to be admitted to TWI therefore keeping siblings together at one school even if the older sibling is not in TWI.
3. Strengthen outreach to the Black community about the TWI program by developing a strategy that is built off of input from Black stakeholders currently engaged in TWI.
4. Allocate funds annually for summer curriculum revision to deepen the curricular connection between the TWI program and the global studies model with a specific focus on connections of the African diaspora to Latin American cultures and history as well as ensuring the inclusion of indigenous and Afro-Caribbean experiences.”
The administration’s full memo concerning this issue is available on the District’s website.