Coral Way Bilingual Elementary School

Coral Way Elementary School in Dade County, Florida, is considered to be the first public school bilingual bicultural education program for both English and Spanish speakers in the United States. It began as a way to accommodate the thousands of children of Cuban refugee families that streamed into southern Florida at the time of and just after the Castro’s Cuban revolution of 1959 and was subsidized by authorities. This model was one where the first language of the child was used for instruction in both subject matter and to maintain the first language, English was used for instruction and as a second language, and where Cuban cultural traditions were inculcated in the children. This was bilingual-bicultural education, not a language learning program but a fully integrated curriculum using two languages, for both English and Spanish speakers. Bilingual-bicultural education was the name of the program as it was also later encoded in the federal bilingual education law of 1968 and extended to other groups. This project located graduates and teachers/administrators of the program’s initial years, to create the beginning of an oral history, and to document their very important experiences in those first years of official bilingual education for Spanish and English speakers in public schools.

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