Preserving the Cultural heritage
Since 1968, many bilingual schools have been created in Miami-Dade County, Florida. At the outset, there were more than 75 such schools, many of them a continuation of institutions that had been confiscated by the communist regime of Cuba and which reestablished themselves here. Unfortunately, with the passage of time and the lack of adequate succession, these schools have diminished. Having contributed to the founding of LINCOLN-MARTI, which today continues under a third generation, we created the BILINGUAL SCHOOLS ASSOCIATION, INC. (BISA) to ensure the observance of the highest standards in the operation of bilingual schools and to assist these, and other, educational institutions by offering guidance, supervision and help to improve their programs, and provide an assurance to families that the accredited schools are fulfilling their mission.
BISA upholds the highest educational values in its service to the multi-ethnic communities that reside in this world. There are a substantial number of immigrant youths being educated throughout the world who continue to encounter solid barriers of communication, speak other languages, have different customs and, despite worldly universalities, find themselves isolated from the mainstream culture. BISA aims to break down these barriers to facilitate inclusion and this is why the organization was constituted as a Florida non-profit corporation on May 20, 2000 and subsequently was approved as an organization recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in September 2000.
We are aware of the great difficulties that the assimilation into the American culture creates for education and of the effort that schools must make. At the same time, parents of these students wish to preserve their customs and cultural values. They feel that their heritage is important, and they do not want their children to lose such treasures. It would be a grave mistake if these children were made to forget their native language and cultural heritage. Bilingualism is necessary not just as a vehicle of communication, but also to foster a better understanding between the many cultures living in our country and the world.
The unique characteristics of bilingual education demand specialized attention. A bilingual education offers many wonderful benefits to students and broadens their horizons. The manner in which this curriculum is administered must be monitored to ensure that appropriate didactic techniques are being applied in a way that is beneficial for the individual student. Given the relative acclamation for this academic approach, the educational community needs a centralized organization to monitor developments in this area.
BISA’s goal is therefore twofold:
1) to ensure that sound educational practices are employed in bilingual instruction, ensuring that students receive the greatest possible benefit from the program; and
2) to serve as a testamentary resource ensuring that BISA accredited institutions adhere to its bilingual and multicultural education standards and guidelines, thereby providing a source of reassurance to the educational community at-large.
Established by-laws and standards are used to evaluate a school for initial or continuing membership. Both subjective and objective measurements of performance are employed during the evaluation process. A school is judged by numerous objective standards. The success a school is having in carrying out its published philosophy is of utmost importance. This is always uppermost in the minds of the evaluators and the Board of Directors as they make their accreditation decision.
Its goal is not only to accredit programs that are bilingual, in English and Spanish, but also bilingual and multicultural programs for speakers of other languages. The objective is to make the highly acclaimed practice of bilingual and multicultural education an inclusionary one rather than an exclusionary one.
In Miami-Dade County, there are students from more than 160 different countries who speak from among 90 different languages. These youngsters deserve the opportunity to participate in accredited programs that embrace the children’s background and nurture their cultural awareness, instilling pride in their heritage while helping them acclimate to their new home. By providing students with the opportunity to obtain the benefits of a quality multicultural education program, we will be opening countless doors to them in our multicultural society. South Florida is the ideal setting for the creation of this endeavor, which will serve to improve the quality of bilingual education of future generations, bringing together the schools throughout the world that meet the standards of BISA and who adopt its by-laws, standards and procedures.