To get into Florida colleges and universities you have to have studied — or be able to speak — a second language. But Florida students don’t have to take foreign language classes to graduate from high school.
So in a part of the state where most families already speak a second language, Immokalee Community School is leaning on parents to make sure their children stay bilingual. As a condition of their children attending the school, every parent has signed a contract to speak Spanish with their kids for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
The first English/Spanish bilingual education program in the country started at Miami's Coral Way Elementary in 1963. It was supposed to be a temporary curriculum to help Cuban students retain their language and culture, while people waited for the Castro regime to fall.
Today the school, which has since expanded to the eighth grade, continues to thrive. Coral Way's elementary students spend about 60% of the day learning in English and 40% learning in Spanish.