Mandarin pulls new students to LA school

Mandarin immersion program is drawing white and Asian students to what was a heavily Latino, under-enrolled elementary school, reports the Los Angeles Times. Enrollment is up:  Dual-language students may outnumber students in regular classes in a few years.

In 2009, 81% of Broadway’s students were Latino, 15% were black, six were white and none were Asian, reports the Times. “The next year, the new classes of Mandarin immersion students were almost exclusively white and Asian,” though a handful of black and Latino students have chosen the program. Few students are native Mandarin speakers.

Students spend half the day learning exclusively in Mandarin, half the day in English with a different teacher.

“These programs have had very good results for the English speakers, sometimes not quite as great for the other language speakers,” said Sacramento-based bilingual consultant Norm Gold. “But it all depends on doing a quality implementation.”

Even excluding the students in the Mandarin program, Broadway has boosted its standardized test scores — up more than 100 points to 869 on the Academic Performance Index from 2008 when (Principal Susan) Wang arrived. Mandarin immersion students were too young to be tested last spring, but the school’s scores could rise again next year.

Mandarin immersion attracts the children of ambitious, educated parents, most of whom are Asian or white and middle or upper-middle class. No wonder it’s popular with parents.

Via Alexander Russo.

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  1. Is this actually doing any good for the black and Hispanic students?

  2. I’m betting that this is really two schools under the same roof, with almost no interaction between the groups; the math/science HS magnet in my area was like that. Even the extracurriculars were largely separate because the two groups made different choices.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Yeah, a lot of magnets work that way. I know when I was at Blair, even my AP/Honors classes tended to be mostly magnet because the magnet blocks meant we could only take other classes at specific times. On the other hand, the school was very segregated anyway. There were certain halls/ lunch tables that everyone knew were the “vietnamese hall’ or the ‘black hall’ or the ‘mexican hall’ and you just didn’t hang out in them. On the other hand, the gang fights tended to be segregated too… vietnamese on vietnamese, or black on black. So if you belonged to the magnet, you were also safe from the various other problems of the urban school. But we really weren’t the ONLY school with in a school. It’s just that the other kids self-segregated by race, and we self-segregated by academics. (heck, we stuck out so badly that, for several years until they cracked down on us and tried to enforce rules equally, we could get away with using graphing calculators as hall passes!)

  3. Do kids self-segregate by race? Big time. So do inmates in state and federal prisons. So do adults in multiculti neighborhoods and cities. Say good-bye to the melting pot and hello to the salad bowl. And a tip of the hat to LBJ and Ted Kennedy for making it this way.

    • There has always been ethnic self segregation. There were Italian, Polish, Irish, Jewish and other ethnic neighborhoods in the past. The difference is, there used to be a strong emphasis on assimilation. Today the message is do your own thing.