Elena Marie Rosario, M.A.
Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Michigan
In 1968, the U.S. Legislature passed the first federal legislation addressing the needs of students with limited proficiency in the English language. The Bilingual Education Act provided American schools with federal funding to establish programming to teach English as a second language and incorporate native-language instruction for students. The act resulted from significant movements in the United States at the time, such as immigration and the civil rights movement. In the 1970s, members of Hartford’s large Puerto Rican and Spanish-speaking community advocated for equal access to education for the city’s thousands of Spanish-speaking students. By 1972, the first bilingual school in the state, called La Escuelita, opened on Ann Street in Hartford following pressure from Puerto Rican community members such as Edna Negrón Rosario and María Colón Sánchez to ensure that all students in Hartford had equal access to quality education.
D1: Potential Compelling Question
D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
- What was controversial about bilingual programming in 1970s Hartford?
- What were some goals or aims of Hartford’s public school bilingual programming in the 1970s?
- What roles did Puerto Ricans play in developing bilingual education programming in Hartford during the twentieth century?
- What role did the demographics of a town or city play in the development of bilingual programs?
D2: TOOL KIT
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY
1. Begin the class by reviewing the civil rights movement and other social reforms of the mid-twentieth century to provide the context for the changes in rights and opportunities that occurred through legislation in the United States.
To discuss the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 and its significance, see how it is explained by Amy J. Orr in her chapter in Encyclopedia of American Immigration (2010):
“Federal legislation that provided funding to school districts to develop bilingual education programs. Also known as Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965; Public Law 90-247. Signed into law on January 2, 1968. The Bilingual Education Act was the first federal legislation to address the unique educational needs of students with limited English-speaking ability (later called “limited English proficient”).”
2. Read the Anderson article (source #1) to place bilingual education in Hartford within the larger context discussed.
a. What does this article tell us about bilingual education? What is the content?
b. What does it tell us about the city of Hartford?
3. Divide the class into two groups and have one group read source #2A and the other read source #2B individually and take detailed notes with the following questions in mind:
a. What are the main points of the article?
b. Who is the audience?
c. Do you find the argument persuasive? Why or why not?
d. What information can you glean from this source?
4. Have each student pair up with someone outside their group to discuss what they read and learned about from reading their source.
5. As a class, place the two articles in conversation with each other by comparing the sources using a Venn diagram to discuss the similarities and differences in the articles.
a. Who were some of the key people discussed or quoted?
b. What institutions are involved?
6. Students will read the Paprino article (source #3) and with a partner discuss two or three takeaways to share with the class in a large group discussion.
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
- Students will research demographic changes in their town or county since the 1970s and report on their findings in writing or by creating charts or infographics.
- Students will develop arguments using claims and counterclaims from the sources and to participate in a 1970s debate on bilingual education moderated by the teacher.
- Students will investigate bilingual education in the state today and compare it to the 1970s.
Place to GO
Things To DO
Watch Hartford Public Library’s event: Revolutionary Latinas: The History of Bilingual Education in Hartford with Edna Negrón & Glaisma Pérez-Silva
Websites to VISIT
Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee Gallery:
Articles to READ
ConnecticutHistory.org: “Maria Sánchez, State Representative and Community Advocate”
Stewner-Manzanares, Gloria. “The Bilingual Education Act: Twenty Years Later.” (1988).
Zirkel, Perry A. “Bilingual Education and School Desegregation: A Case of Uncoordinated Remedies.” (1976).