By Dr. Mary Ann Wolf
Did you know that North Carolina is a leader in global education? Our global commitments represent a unique statewide initiative that was adopted by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning as a national framework for investing in the support and vision necessary to prepare our students for a global workplace.
Students across our state are thriving through opportunities within our public schools, like the dual language immersion programs featured on today’s show at the Gregory International School in Wilmington and Lakewood Elementary in Durham.
The benefits for our students are numerous. As Jake Henry and James Hopkins mentioned, dual language learners outperform their peers in reading, with a better comprehension of languages and approaches to problem-solving. A Rand (2017) study showed that dual-language students outperformed their peers in reading on state tests in fifth grade and eighth grade.
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 around the world. There are more than 170 Dual Language/Immersion programs available across North Carolina today teaching languages such as Cherokee, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Spanish and Urdu. Learning about different perspectives and cultures enables a better understanding of the world around us, and teaches empathy and social awareness, bringing people together.
Dual language programs are just one of the many options available in our public schools. Many school districts offer students options in Career and Technical Education; hands-on learning in STEM-focused schools and curricula; specialized programs focused on music, dance, or visual arts; virtual, personalized learning through the public school system through the NC Virtual Academy; and options to accelerate learning through early college high schools. And that’s just to name a few.
Districts across North Carolina can look to other districts, like Cumberland County Schools, which publishes an online public school choice guide for families, along with Gaston County Schools and Guilford County Schools, to see what the possibilities are and how we might scale up some of these options to ensure that students across the state have access to these enriching alternative options.