EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Mary Ann Wolf’s “last word” on the December 19, 2021 program on Education Matters: “Bilingual Programs and School Choices”. Wolf is President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

Did you know that North Carolina is a leader in global education? Our Global Commitments represent a unique statewide initiative that has been embraced by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning as a national framework to invest in the support and vision needed to prepare our students for a place. global work.

Students in our state thrive through opportunities in our public schools, like the two-language immersion programs that featured the latest Education Matters show at Gregory International School in Wilmington and Lakewood Elementary in Durham. .

The benefits for our students are numerous. As Jake Henry and James Hopkins mentioned, bilingual learners outperform their peers in reading, with better understanding of languages ​​and problem-solving approaches.

A Rand study (2017) found that bilingual students outperformed their peers in reading on state tests in grades five and eight.

Having a global curriculum gives local students the opportunity to grow in a whole new way using language and culture, and helps students become better citizens in this community and the world.

Today there are over 170 bilingual / immersion programs available in North Carolina to teach languages ​​such as Cherokee, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Spanish, and Urdu.

Learning from different perspectives and cultures allows for a better understanding of the world around us and teaches empathy and social awareness, bringing people together.

Bilingual programs are just one of the many options available at our public schools.

Many school districts provide students with vocational and technical education options; hands-on learning in schools and STEM-focused programs; specialized programs focusing on music, dance or the visual arts; virtual and personalized learning through the public school system through the NC Virtual Academy; and options to accelerate learning in early secondary schools. And that’s just to name a few.

Districts in North Carolina can look to other districts, such as Cumberland County Schools, which publish an online public school choice guide for families, as well as schools in Gaston County and schools in Guilford County, to see what the possibilities are and how we might expand some of these options to ensure that students across the state have access to these rewarding alternative options.

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