Bilingualism and Biliteracy
Bilingualism and biliteracy are valuable, enriching, and rigorous endeavors. We want to offer the best opportunity for students to master two languages, English and Spanish. Two decades ago Thomas and Collier (1997) offered educators a viable and effective alternative to transitional bilingual education through a dual language approach that research has continually validated (Dual Language Education of New Mexico, Inc.). Raíces implements a 90:10 two-way (dual language) immersion approach beginning in kindergarten. First-grade students receiving 80% instruction in Spanish and 20% in English in all subjects. Instruction in English increases by 10% each year to reach a 50/50 ratio beginning in fourth grade. Research demonstrates that the 90:10 model offers the most effective approach to achieving biliteracy and students becoming fully bilingual
Culturally Responsive Identity Formation
Emphasis will be placed on regional (local) heritage to ensure that our curriculum is culturally responsive. Raíces will involve students, family, and teachers in exploring and creating content that documents local social reality and history by using the internet, field experiences, conversations with family members, and presentations by community members. This content is part of the millennial heritage of the United States-Mexico Border context within Doña Ana County and its surrounding areas.
Following are some examples:
● The ancient petroglyphs near Radium Springs, those in the Franklin Mountains and Hueco Tanks Texas State Park record a 10,000-
year human presence in this area.
● The Pueblo of Tortugas, one of the oldest post-colonial settlements in Las Cruces, still attracts visitors from around the world to their
yearly Virgin of Guadalupe festival on December 12.
● The Piro-Manzo-Tigua (PMT) Tribe is still engaged in an effort of descendants of the original inhabitants of this area to secure a
cultural space to continue their traditional community.
● Chile from Hatch is known across the United States and the world. The impact that chile and corn has had can be traced to the
arrival of these agricultural products some 4,000 years ago by Mesoamerican travelers to this area from central México.
Integrating Personal and Cultural Identity, and Enriching Curriculum
The concept of using Mexican indigenous heritage as a pedagogy to enrich and augment academic achievement was introduced by educators in Phoenix, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas as the Xinachtli Project (Godina 1996). This type of enrichment pedagogy promotes positive changes in ethnic identity and increased academic aspirations (Luna, Nora; Evans, William P.; Davis, Bret, 2015). From 1996 to 2012, under the title of Mesoamerican Project, it was used effectively as an adjunct pedagogy to support the bilingual program at Canutillo Elementary School (Hector Giron, testimony 2017). Xinachtli pedagogy was also used by the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in Tucson, Arizona’s public schools from 1998 to 2012 with significantly positive results (Cabrera, 2012). Xinachtli is currently an enrichment program at Bill Childress Elementary (BCE), Canutillo ISD (Texas) which is facilitated by Carlos Aceves, one of the founders of the Xinachtli Project and the proposed Raíces charter school. A self-report study of teachers at BCE indicates that student participation in this enrichment process increased motivation, improved behavior, and strengthened academic performance.
Community Led Model
The Raíces organizational team in collaboration with parents, administrators, and faculty will create an open school environment within a U.S.-Mexico Border cultural context. Parents are essential partners to the success of the school. We will create opportunities for parents to exercise leadership and grow in their advocacy skills for navigating the educational systems throughout their children's lives. A Parent Advisory Council will be instrumental for ensuring parents participate in planning and implementing the core values of Raíces. Parents, along with the Parents Council will be instrumental in creating interventions, such as after-school and weekend tutoring. They will be involved in planning, organizing, and promoting cultural events after hours or on Saturdays to support Raíces culture and values.