• By Lizdelia Piñón, Ed.D. • Knowledge is Power • February 3, 2022 •

The current attack on curriculum and on diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives is not new. About 20 years ago, we had a similar attack to ban bilingual education in several states and weaken it virtually everywhere else. “English only” groups organized in cities, counties and states proclaiming that English should be the “official language.” This small, vocal minority showed up at school boards and demanded to be heard, much like we are seeing today.

Twenty years earlier, the U.S. Congress passed several laws that guaranteed citizens’ access to essential public documents in languages other than English. And an essential U.S. Supreme Court ruling emphasized that schools must protect the civil rights of emergent bilingual students by taking appropriate steps to serve them.

Research shows that bilingual learning can mean higher cognitive function, better scores and grades, increased language proficiency, and higher graduation rates and college enrollment. And research by Collier & Thomas (2009) demonstrates that bilingual classrooms promote equity in education and help narrow achievement gaps.

So again, as the nation continues to debate the role of race in society, a radical, vocal minority is determined to turn our classrooms into combat zones for their fierce culture wars. They use social media to spread misleading information, just like the “English Only” proponents did through speeches and articles two decades ago.

The debates that are currently sweeping across our nation are attacking the Civil Rights Act. They are hurting all students, but most intentionally, they are harming students of color. As educators, parents and advocates, we cannot allow decades of hard civil rights work, intentionally designed to close achievement gaps, to be disrupted by this loud minority.

Show up at the school board meetings and speak up. Be a strong, accurate social media presence and share the truth! As Gloria Anzaldua states: “Do work that matters; Vale la pena.”

[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the February 3, 2022, edition of Knowledge is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]