Grassroots Synthesis

The structure of these grassroots organizations can take many forms ranging from direct teaching to advocacy. Waltham Family School is directly involved with teaching English as they welcome families into their organization. ATDLE focuses on spreading awareness about the importance of these programs as well as the main points to keep in mind when creating one. What is particularly interesting about this organization is that it spread from a statewide to national level. Similarly to Waltham Family School, WATCH CDC offers English classes to those in the Waltham community. Groups such as Progressive Waltham take a different approach as they do not directly teach in these programs, but rather advocate for the educational rights of those in their community. Although these groups are organized differently, they all share the same goal of spreading the importance of dual-language learning and English acquisition as well as maintaining the culture and rights of those involved. 

Many of the grassroots organizations related to dual-language learning and programs involve educators and community members alike. Typically, the people running these organizations are those who feel strongly about the issue at hand and have often had prior organizing experience, but not always. Many of those heading the programs are current and former principals and teachers such as in Dual Language Education of New Mexico who have seen the positive effects of dual-language learning and wish to spread them. In this grassroots organization, many of the board members have taught in bilingual settings so they know the ins and outs of how they work. Organization members are those who are in touch with the communities around them and are often a part of them themselves. Dual Language Education of New Mexico stresses the importance of involving the communities since the students and families in these communities know best when it comes to decision-making. 

Gathering community members in order to implement dual-language programs also overlaps with the idea of the achievement gap often present in urban education. Frequently, this gap is due to a difference in opportunities and can serve as an obstacle to those who may not know how to navigate the public school system. These opportunities vary from financial to community participation. The Austin Language Justice Collective aims to help community members communicate so that they can participate more fully in their communities. Similarly, WATCH CDC aims to ensure that all voices in a community are heard because not just one group should be able to voice their opinions; communities are most strongly built through the collective power of voices from members. 

Similarly to most other groups right now, these organizations will need to try and navigate how to continue spreading the power of dual-language programs and teaching in a pandemic. Members of communities may not have certain resources such as WiFi and computers which makes it difficult to ensure equal access to learning and also is a potential contributor to the overall achievement gap at hand. 

Many of these organizations have successfully lessened the achievement gap. Waltham Family School has seen great success as they helped both the parents and their children to further succeed after completing the program. After the first 23 kids graduated from their preschool in 2011, just under half of them made the honor roll in middle school which is an amazing accomplishment (“What We Do,” n.d., para. 4). These programs also help to reduce the language barrier as well as empower the students to realize how much knowledge they possess and just how much they have to offer to their communities. 

The people most affected by these programs are the children enrolled in them as well as their families. Grassroots organizations organized around this topic ultimately share the common end goal of helping these students and families to be able to fully advocate for their rights as well as participating in their communities. For example, Aung Htwe from Waltham, Massachusetts shares how “English is the most important thing because if I learn a little English that helps me in my life so it is good for me. But, that help to me also helps my children. When it helps my children, then that helps my family. By helping my family, that is good for my neighborhood. What is good for my neighborhood is also good for my community. What is good for my community, is good for the City” (“Adult Education,” n.d., para. 5). She perfectly captures the sentiment of how individual members are an intrinsic and integral part of a community.