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Rising Popularity Of Dual-Language Education Could Leave Latinos Behind

WASHINGTON — Meri Kolbrener moved to a gentrified neighborhood in northwest D.C. so her children could get a guaranteed spot in the Oyster-Adams Bilingual School. The public school is not far from where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner live, a neighborhood that used to be predominantly Latino but changed color years ago. Now, many wealthy white parents, who once kept their children out of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), are flocking to programs like Oyster-Adams’ because, as Principal Mayra Canizales put it, “dual language became sexy.”

The school has a waitlist of nearly 800 applicants, the vast majority of whom are native English speakers; from that majority, maybe five will get in. Kolbrener, though, doesn’t have to worry. Families who own a home within the school’s attendance boundary have a guaranteed right to enroll. It’s only those outside of the neighborhood who end up on the waitlist.

While neither Kolbrener nor her husband speak Spanish, all three of their children do. At Oyster-Adams, half of the classes are taught in Spanish, so their kids get about three hours of instruction in the language every day, plus additional supports as necessary.