Embracing Linguistic Diversity: The Role of Teacher Leaders in Building Seattle's Pipeline of International Schools

Mariana Haynes
Date of Publication: 
October, 2013
Source Organization: 

This report discusses why and how the U.S. education system needs to change in order to accommodate the increasing number of linguistically diverse students in America.

Using Seattle's growing network of international schools as a model, author Mariana Haynes discusses effective ways to address the cultural and language diversity of students in a manner that benefits both the students and American society as a whole. According to the report, "It is estimated that by 2030 half of all public school students will have non-English speaking backgrounds." Mainstream programs for English Language Learners (ELLs) provide students with a "below-standard curriculum," viewing language diversity as a deficit to overcome, rather than an asset. By way of contrast, schools embracing "cultural and linguistic diversity are producing far better outcomes than traditional schools, which have historically undeserved students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds." Ten years after the first international elementary school opened in Seattle, "fourth- and fifth-grade proficiency rates increased by more than 30 percentage points...significantly outperforming district and state averages." The purpose of the innovative design of Seattle's international and immersion schools, Hayes points out, is not to academically outperform traditional schools but rather to effectively prepare students to meet the demands of the global economy and to produce "employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to work effectively with employees and partners in other countries." The author's concluding remarks offer policy recommendations for developing effective school designs that "focus on developing students' twenty-first century knowledge, skills, and dispositions."  (Jade Flora-Holmquist)

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Haynes, M. (2013). Embracing Linguistic Diversity: The Role of Teacher Leaders in Building Seattle's Pipeline of International Schools. Alliance for Excellent Education. Washington: DC. Available at: https://all4ed.org/publication/embracing-linguistic-diversity-the-role-of-teacher-leaders-in-building-seattles-pipeline-of-international-schools/