Staff Report

Local education experts discussed how effective bilingual instruction plans help raise grades and reduce drop-out rates during a recent forum presented by United Way of Santa Barbara County.

The United for Literacy Education Forum at the Santa Barbara County Education Office Auditorium, centered on how effective, bilingual instruction plans enable students to use reading, writing, listening and speaking for a wide range of purposes. Panelists discussed best practices, measurable outcomes, local opportunities and challenges.

Panelist Dr. Jin Sook Lee, professor in the Department of Education at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UCSB, noted that research supports how dual and multi-language education produces great cognitive, psychological and academic benefits. This includes greater attention spans, increased aptitude to make executive decisions and more.

Recent research demonstrates that such aptitude leads to health benefits that can significantly delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and other dementia–related illnesses.

Bilingual instruction also fosters faster and more efficient English language acquisition, along with stronger professional and educational aspirations.

Panelist Dr. Carlos Pagán, Director of Literacy and Language Support with the Santa Barbara County Education Office, detailed the bilingual education resources in Santa Barbara County. Currently, bilingual education is offered at Adelante Charter School in Santa Barbara, as well as five school districts: Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Solvang, and Santa Maria-Bonita.

“These benefits are staggering and emphasize the importance strong, multilingual education plans play in the future of our students,” said Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “We’re thankful to everyone who participated in this year’s United for Literacy Education Forum and for their ongoing work.” 

Panelists also included David Bautista, executive director and principal of Adelante Charter School, and Jamie Persoon, principal of Canalino Elementary School.