Building Integrated Classrooms


WATCH — In San Antonio, an Integration Experiment Spurs New School Options That Embrace Families’ Heritage: Inside Mark Twain Dual Language Academy

September 30, 2018

Growing up, Cristina Noriega heard the stories about how her father was punished for speaking Spanish at school. Sometimes Lionel Sosa’s teacher would strike his knuckles with a ruler. One time, he couldn’t find the right English words to ask permission to use the bathroom and wet his pants in class. By the time Sosa was raising his own children, the family spoke mostly English.

When the San Antonio Independent School District announced it was opening a dual language academy where children would be taught using the “cognitive magic” of bilingual education, Noriega leaped to enroll her daughters, Luz and Paloma. Part of an ambitious and unprecedented effort to integrate the district’s schools using household income, Mark Twain Dual Language Academy quickly filled up with Mexican-American families eager to see their children become not just bilingual but bicultural.

“What a gift to my kids,” says Noriega, now president of the school’s parent-teacher organization and a vocal supporter of San Antonio ISD’s plan to create dynamic new schools and ensure that the city’s most impoverished children are fairly represented in them. “Not only to speak Spanish from an early age but to be valued. What a cool thing.”

Tour Mark Twain Dual Language Academy with Noriega and Principal David Garcia and then read more about the city, its schools, and the leaders behind a revolutionary integration experiment. (Click here to read the full 74 Special Report)

Video Produced by Heather Martino, Edited by James Fields