Bilingual-principal policy should be kept, UNT expert says

DENTON (UNT), Texas — A Dallas Independent School District policy requiring some principals to speak Spanish should be kept in place, says a University of North Texas College of Education professor. The Dallas school board is expected to consider eliminating a policy that requires principals to learn Spanish if they work in schools with high Spanish-speaking populations. The policy was adopted last year.

Dr. Rudy Rodriguez, director of UNT’s bilingual/English as a Second Language program and a UNT professor, says Spanish-speaking principals can help strengthen the bonds between school administrators and students’ families, helping to get parents more involved in schools and ultimately resulting in a better education for students.

“The schools, more than any other government agency, can help empower or enable parents,” Rodriguez said. With the help of parents and the community, “schools can also positively influence those students who may be lacking in motivation for education and are the products of experiences that limit their successes.”

The Dallas school district set an important precedent last year in requiring principals to speak Spanish, Rodriguez says. The policy makes good sense for a district that has a Hispanic enrollment of about 65 percent, he says.

“For many immigrants, school is their first line of contact with a U.S. government institution,” Rodriguez says. “At a time when we need to help recent immigrants develop an understanding of our system and importance of civic participation, it is important that these contacts be positive and in a language that is welcoming and encourages parents to take part in schools and civic activities. The learning of English will naturally follow as the parents and their children become more integrated with the mainstream.”

Rodriguez can be reached at: Office: (940) 565-2833 or Cell: 940-391-9764.

**UNT** The University of North Texas is a student-centered public research university and is the flagship of the UNT System. It is the most comprehensive university in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, offering 93 bachelor’s, 111 master’s and 50 doctoral degree programs, many nationally recognized. UNT is also one of the largest universities in Texas, enrolling more than 33,500 students.