Broadway Elementary last year joined the ranks of more than 200 schools across the state to offer a dual-language immersion program in which students learn in two languages with the goal of becoming academically proficient in both. In the school's "50-50" program, teachers who use Mandarin in the classroom and those whose instruction is in English are paired, and students spend half their day with each.
Broadway began the program to help boost plummeting enrollment — the school had reached a low of 257 students in 2008-09. The experiment worked — maybe too well.
With about 130 students in the Mandarin program so far, school enrollment is now at 330. Principal Susan Wang is concerned that the dual-language learners will outnumber the students in the regular school classes. And, by 2013-14, she figures that the Mandarin program will need a bigger home.
The newcomers to the Mandarin program also changed the demographics of the little neighborhood school. In 2009, 81% of Broadway's students were Latino, 15% were black, six were white and none were Asian. The next year, the new classes of Mandarin immersion students were almost exclusively white and Asian.