In the fall of 1963, in the throes of the Cold War, Coral Way Elementary took in the children of political refugees fleeing Fidel Castro's Cuba. The goal was not just to teach them English, but to make sure they remained fluent in Spanish and held on to their culture. Cuban-Americans thrived in Miami, and so did Coral Way's bilingual immersion model.
Every morning, shortly after 8 o'clock, students at the Coral Way Elementary School pledge allegiance to the flag and stand for the national anthem. Then Spanish becomes the language of instruction. In one fourth-grade class, reading assignments, science, math and social studies lessons are entirely in Spanish. After lunch, classes switch to English. On the playground, you hear a mix.
Coral Way principal Josephine Otero questions a child on the playground: "Buenos dias mija, why are we running? Why?"
Otero is one in a long line of bilingual principals at the school who have presided over what experts consider the "gold standard" of public bilingual education in the U.S.
Listen the whole story at NPR.
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