K12 Summit Educator Series: Bringing Bilingual Education to the Forefront

To kick off its first episode, host of K12 Summit’s new Educator Series podcast, JW Marshall, spoke with Dr. Liz Garza Garcia, president of BEAM with 16 years in education. While “Lizzie,” as nicknamed in college, would have never been associated with teaching, Garcia began mentoring and tutoring students in junior college. The experience of witnessing Spanish-speaking students fall behind because of the language barrier — not a knowledge gap — sparked her desire and passion for teaching.

Garcia’s education career progressed from tutor to educator and eventually administration; regardless of the stage, she focused her path on impacting bilingual and inequitable learning environments. “I went and decided to go into administration to be that administrator I never had,” Garcia explained.

After witnessing these unfair learning conditions, Garcia enrolled in a university — one that was up to par with her passion for equality and bilingual education — to receive a doctorate and gain even more credibility. While at her school of choice, Texas A&M Commerce, Garcia decided to focus on the evaluator’s feedback perspective from bilingual educators. The unfortunate realization of her studies? “Nothing really has changed and … more inequities have begun to open up and be masked [with Band-Aid fixes].”

For districts with bilingual programs, Garcia believes the educators should take the initiative to research the topic through getting involved with their local bilingual association (found at nabe.org) and discovering more resources at beamdfw.org.

“The great hope is that we’re going to be the mecca… Every single district that has a thriving dual-language program is trying to reach the same exact place — and that’s the mecca of dual-language programming.” Garcia, clearly passionate on the subject, is confident that if everyone has the same vision, then they will undoubtedly reach their goal while also exciting single-language students to learn an additional language to get in on the fun.

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