Interview – Dr. Francisco Guajardo, the concept of bilingualism/biculturalism/biliteralism

Date of Interview: December 22, 2018
Interviewed By: Chuy Ramriez
Posted: July 24, 2021

Dr. Francisco Guajardo
Former professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Former Executive Director, B3 Institute &
Professor, Department of Organization and School Leadership

Dr. Francisco Guajardo is a native of the Texas-Mexico border, has been a public high school teacher, a school administrator, a nonprofit executive, and a spirited advocate for public education. Dr. Guajardo holds a B.A. in English, an M.A. in History, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a founder of the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development, a community-based nonprofit organization nestled inside Edcouch-Elsa High School. He is a founder of the Edinburg Dance Theatre, a local arts organization that offers quality ballet and other dance instruction to children in rural communities along the border. He is a founder of the Community Learning Exchange, a national movement focused on building local leadership for community change. Locally, he has led public efforts to pass bond issues totaling more than $130 million to build new schools, and he led a citizen committee brought together to raise more than $184 million in bonds to improve the drainage infrastructure for the neediest areas in the South Texas county of Hidalgo. Dr. Guajardo has also served on the board of directors of the Center for Rural Strategies and the Rural School and Community Trust, both national organizations.

At the time of the interview (late 2017), Dr. Guajardo was still at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg and, among other work, developing a bilingual/bicultural/biliterate program for the University.  He has since left the University and currently heads the Museum of South Texas at Edinburg.

 

For Dr. Guajardo’s publications and writings, see Appendix A

Chuy:  This is our interview of Frank Guajardo. Today is December 22, 2018.

Frank:  I just wanted to show you this audio clip.

Chuy: What is the clip about?

Frank:  What we are seeing is a clip of an oral history that I did with attorney David Hall and the Castañeda family. El papá de ella demandó al distrito escolar de Raymondville in 1978-79.

from the clip:

“This is Frank Guajardo. Today is October 2, 2013. We are at the University, Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas. We are at the College of Education in the Office of the Bilingual Staff.”

Castañeda alleged that given instruction that was bilingual education instruction in the early to mid-1970’s, not only was his daughter not getting the proper instruction, her father, who was also on the school board, maintained that there was a pattern of discriminatory hiring practices of teachers. And so that students were not only not getting bilingual education, but they weren’t even getting the kind of teaching that was sensitive to the students. So, Mr. Castañeda then sued his own school board and the President of the Board at the time was a Mr. Pickard, a veterinarian at the time. Or was it, Mrs. Pickard? Puede haber sido una señora. Anyway, he sued Pickard and it became the Castañeda vs Pickard case. (Note: Castañeda vs Mrs. A. M. “Billy” Pickard). It was all around whether the Lau remedies were being implemented but it was also an issue of equity and civil rights.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  It was attorney David Hall who represented the family because the family, interestingly, did not have a lot of resources but had a lot of social capital in the community because Mr. Castañeda had a little corner store in Raymondville. It is, in fact, how he won elections.

Chuy: Sure.

Frank:  Everybody knew him and there was a backroom in the corner store and they talk about this. It’s a very interesting case. You go to YouTube and do oral history on the Castañeda family and you will see it. And David Hall is completely lucid. He still is, ¿verdad? But David Hall tells interesting stories about where he was from. Being from East Texas, small community, being segregated when he was growing up. That he came from a very conservative family but that he saw injustice growing up as a kid.

Chuy:  Yeah, yeah.

Frank:  It’s a very interesting oral history here and it’s well-captured, as you can see. With good audio.

Chuy:  That’s great. No, no, definitely got to look at that. As a matter of fact, coincidently, I was looking at the Lau case the other day. And the Castañeda case was in the federal court you said, right?

Frank:  District.

Chuy:  Jurisdiction would have probably been under the federal statute, under the bilingual education funding…

Frank:  Right.

Chuy:  …that requires school districts to meet certain standards. Yeah, and it’s taken a lot of those battles to get to where bilingual education is now.

Frank:  What the court ruled in what became, famously, “The Castañeda Rules”, there was a set of rules that were laid out. As the Court laid out a set of rules, the Reagan Administration came in. The Reagan Administration pretty much dismantled all of it. And even, what was it, Title VII? got moved to Title III, No Child Left Behind, that sort of thing. A lot of that stuff didn’t even have a chance to make it. So, while Castañeda was significant historically, then politically, it was undone in the early 1980’s. Yeah, it’s a very interesting case, the Castañeda case. There was a dissertation written on it. A woman who did a Ph.D. out of Baylor. She was from Harlingen.

Chuy:  Hmm.

Frank:  And she wrote her dissertation about the Castañeda case.

Chuy:  Interesting. That’s a great story.

Frank:  So, getting back to this, I think that we can make the argument that where we are in 2017, on the eve of 2018, is that the work that I do at the University and the push the University[1] is making now to become a bilingual/biliterate/bicultural institution would not have happened without the ground being laid through a number of years. And one of the pivotal moments, I would maintain, is not only Edcouch-Elsa, ’68,[2] the Melon Strike, ’66,[3]but La Lomita, 1970.[4] And so there is a certain genealogy here that really shapes the DNA of what’s happening now in higher ed. And what’s happening now in higher ed, I think, is very interesting and it’s almost like what the Supreme Court said in ’54. That it’s happening “with all deliberate speed.”[5] Because as much as some of us may like to push it fast, you know, this whole integration of bilingualism across the University, there are forces, almost like cultural forces, political forces, institutional forces, that are like, so rooted that really prevent fast change from happening.

Chuy:  Yeah. Let me go back.

Frank:  Yes, let’s back up.

Chuy:  I appreciate that. And I think you’ve started on the right track. You’re saying that B-3[6] is just the latest evolution or development of bilingual/bicultural education. Let’s start with bilingual education. I daresay that in April 1971, when Severo Gómez[7] was pushing bilingual education in Texas, that that was, first of all, the farthest thing from anybody’s mind, even from those who understood it. And then, for those school districts that wanted to be creative and wanted to try a different structural model, that they also did not have an idea what they were getting into. As a matter of fact, Dr. Alejo Salinas[8] tells me in his interview that he was at PSJA and the assistant superintendent brought him in and said, “You are now in charge of bilingual education,” to which Dr. Salinas replies, “What is that? I don’t know anything about that.” Gus Guerra[9] tells him, “Neither does anybody else.” Which is interesting because that’s in 1970 or ’71.

The Edcouch-Elsa Walkout which you refer to was in 1968 in November and one of the things that they were pushing for was bilingual education (this is a mistatement by the interviewer). They pushed for no punishment for speaking Spanish and, also, I believe, I don’t recall off the top, a reference to teaching of Mexican-American History. I happen to have written a paper in high school on bilingual education in 1968 and as I remember, my sources were primarily the legislation that Senator Bernal had introduced[10], and I think Carlos Truan was already part of that. I believe that at the time Ralph Yarborough[11] is in the U. S. Senate. And I don’t remember what I wrote but I remember that to me, bilingual education was very unique and very interesting. But Edcouch-Elsa raises an issue. Very few people, maybe a handful, even knew what bilingual education was supposed to be. Do you know what it was supposed to be in the early years, in the first five years of bilingual education as a policy in the state of Texas? ¿Qué era bilingual education?

Frank:  The state of Texas was heavily influenced by the state of Arizona. Severo Gómez, the work that he did was very much in keeping with work that Al Ramírez[12] was doing in Edinburg. Al Ramirez is not a known figure on the scholarship on bilingual, even though he was very consequential in the advent of bilingual education in the Rio Grande Valley and indeed, across Region I because he worked at the Service Center. And so, there was a pivotal point that happened in Tucson, Arizona in 1966. I don’t know if I shared the story with you about this. But NEA, the National Education Association, had been looking at Arizona for a while because the outcomes out of Arizona with what they were calling the “Spanish-speaking population” were abysmal. And so, there were enough forces within Arizona, and Maritza de la Trinidad has written about this push in the 1960’s in Arizona (Collective Outrage: Mexican American Activism and the Quest for Educational Equality and Reform in Tucson, 1959-1990) even about bilingual education. So, a pivotal moment happens in 1966 in Tucson when NEA organized, funded a conference based on research that had been conducted in the schools across the states to see how Spanish-speaking children were faring at schools. So, they found that these children were not doing well and there was some experimental work being done in the schools around language development by using Spanish. The early results were positive, and NEA decided to bring these lessons from the preliminary research that was happening across Arizona. Now, mind you, there is a whole history of bilingualism and bilingual education in this country going back to the 19th Century with schools in Nebraska. There were bilingual schools, German/English. There was in the 1830’s in Texas, where Stephen F. Austin was talking about bilingualism in the new Texas schools when it was the Republic of Texas. He was very progressive, very forward-thinking, thinking that as we develop a school system in the state of Texas, and they weren’t thinking as in the 21st Century way, they were just thinking in terms of building schools. But Stephen F. Austin was talking about bilingualism. You can actually look to Carlos Blanton’s book, very interesting book that he entitled The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas: 1836-1981. (TAMU 2004). And he looks at 1936 all the way to 1986. And so, Blanton, very, very solid historian out of Texas A&M, comes out of the Emilio Zamora shop, essentially because when Blanton was doing his Ph.D. at the University of Houston, Emilio was there.

Emilio Zamora served as a mentor for Carlos Blanton who was an undergraduate. Carlos Blanton was in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, early 90’s, at A&M. And so, Blanton wrote this book that has won awards. It’s a really solid book that traces, in Texas, this whole impulse towards bilingualism that would then become almost controlled by racialist elements in the 20th century that then George I. Sanchez would fight against and that sort of thing. He also wrote a biography of George I. Sanchez that he just published. (George I. Sanchez: The Long Fight for Mexican American Integration). It’s very interesting stuff around Sanchez looking at “whiteness” because Sanchez, you know, a lot of his work was equating Mexican-Americans with White so that Mexican-American children would not be segregated. But he also fought intelligence tests.

So, in ’66, in Tucson, there is a big conference. It was not just a statewide conference. It was a national conference. And so, there were some people who went to this conference, interestingly, big names and not so big names. Big name: U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough, who had been at odds with LBJ for a number of years.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  You know, se daban golpes, verdad, because LBJ was like the senior guy. Yarborough was way too progressive for LBJ. Pero aún así, Yarborough aprendió mucho de LBJ. And as a Progressive firebrand, Yarborough understood the LBJ story of Cotulla, Texas, and all that kind of stuff.  Yarborough’s impulses were Populist Progressive. He wanted to do good for the downtrodden, especially for the Mexican-American people. Yarborough, as a U.S. Senator, shows up to Tucson. There was a group of three or four who went from the Rio Grande Valley to Tucson as well, including Jesse Treviño, who is now 93, 94 years old.

Chuy:  Ninety-one.

Frank:  Ninety-one, okay. And Alfonso Ramírez. So, Jesse, Alfonso and one or two other guys went to Tucson and they shared a hotel room. Now, this story that I am about to tell you is in the oral history that we did with Jesse. It’s on YouTube.

Chuy:  Okay.

Frank:  Yeah, you can find that, and he tells it in very clear ways. So, late one night, during the conference, Ralph Yarborough knocked on the door of that hotel room where Jesse and Al were. Yarborough went up to this room because he had caught wind of this: that there was a guy in South Texas who had been experimenting with bilingual education, teaching and learning models for some time now. So that guy was Al Ramírez. Al Ramírez had been working this stuff since he was a Spanish professor at Pan American College in the 1950’s in the same department with his mother, Emilia (Emilia Wilhelmina Schunior Ramírez).

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  Emilia is a whole other story. Emilia is a fascinating story of how Anzalduas’ How to Tame a Wild Tongue may not have happened had Emilia not died at the age of fifty-nine of pancreatic cancer. Because Emilia was elevating Spanish within the college. Y despues se murió. But, Al, el hijo, who by the way, used to travel to Austin during the summers with Emilia where they both get a masters’ degree in Spanish from UT at Austin. (Chuckles)

Chuy:  Wow.

Frank:  It’s a fascinating story, the whole Al Ramirez story and how Edinburg seems to have “not gotten it.” Like, the whole Al and Emilia Ramírez story and how they were such proponents of Spanish and bilingualism because, you know, Edinburg ISD does not do bilingual. They do early exit bilingual. So, Yarborough comes to the hotel room. The way Jesse described it, he stayed for hours, picking Al’s brain. And the way Jesse describes it and the way I have been able to triangulate this by also looking at the draft of Yarborough’s policy, Yarborough walks out of the room and would write the very first draft of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968. The way they wrote that draft suggested that the lessons that Yarborough learned from Al were these:  You teach a child in his or her own tongue so that the child can become cognitively developed in that tongue and then the child will have cognitive flexibility and be able to move to a second language or a third language. So, when Yarborough’s staff wrote the legislation, the very first draft, it did not make it out of Committee. What made it out of Committee was a bastardized draft because it’s political compromise. The original legislative draft called for not moving into English, not bilingual education for the purpose of bringing in the children into English but bilingual education for the purpose of building up the two languages.

Chuy:  The first draft?

Frank:  The first draft.

Chuy:  Would the first draft have been what we now call dual language?

Frank:  What the Cubanos were doing in the early 1960’s after they left Cuba. The Cubano story, as you know, Cubanos left, and they thought they were going to go back because they were convinced they were going to depose Fidel. But, in the interim, they sent their kids to school in Miami, Dade. And so, what they wanted was for their children to continue learning Spanish because they were going back.

“Pero, porque estamos aquí, que aprendan el otro idioma, el inglés.”

Thus, the advent of dual language schools, a Cuban experiment in South Florida. Well, that worked so well, and they never went back. They continued because they were intensely proud of their “Cubaness” and their language and culture. So that’s how that worked. Incidentally, it’s where Connie Guerra would get the idea for dual language in PSJA.

Chuy:  From… ¿Los Cubanos?

Frank:  From los Cubanos in South Florida. Dual language in PSJA which started out of a Clinton grant like in 1994, ’95. An Innovation grant…

Chuy:  Right.

Frank: … to work on, you know.

“We’re not doing it right with bilingual,” said the Secretary of Education. I think it was Secretary Riley, maybe.

So, they put out a grant out of that title in The Federal Registry that said, “We’re looking for innovative work to deal with limited English proficiency. And so, Connie Guerra had the presence of mind and the historical awareness. By the way, we have Connie Guerra’s oral history as well, on YouTube.

Chuy:  Okay.

Frank:  She looked at that model. But, Connie knew it, you know, in her heart, she knew it because she had been raised allá en Lyford, y luego aquí en Pharr y vió la diferencia y dijo Connie, “A mí se me hace, qué si les enseñamos el español bien, se van a desarrollar diferente.”  And so, Connie would then, in her late career, begin to lead this kind of effort. And then, other people would jump on it, Rosalva Silva and other kinds of people. And so, a lot of this comes from there. It’s what Ralph Yarborough was hearing, in 1966, from Al Ramírez. And Al Ramírez would actually try to bring that in but none of that ever had a chance because when the legislation was written, that came out of Congress, that had to be, by the way, almost concealed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act because the Bilingual Education Act could not have survived as a stand-alone bill. It had to be incubated as Title VII under ESEA, almost hidden as part of a bigger package. You know how they pass this under the Military Bill or the Defense Bill or whatever. Which is what Trump is trying to do with DACA. Trying to figure it out. So, he’s probably going to do that at some point. Hide it somewhere.

Chuy:  Or call it something else.

Frank:  Or call it something else. Bilingual then, was snuck in as Title VII. But when it came out of Congress, the language is very clear. It is for language acquisition.

Chuy:  English proficiency.

Frank:  English proficiency.

Chuy:  So, when we’re looking back at the late ‘60’s, I think that there is a general understanding that that’s where we’re all headed. We’re basically looking at focusing during maybe the first two or three years of elementary school, on maybe learning some cognitive skills. But for the most part, trying to learn English so that we can, at some point, be moved to the regular course work. Presumably, at some point become sufficiently proficient in the language such that the Spanish language is no longer necessary. Does that make sense?

Frank:  Right. Yeah. That was the thinking.

Chuy:  That was the model. It continues in a lot of places.

Frank:  It continues. It continues to be the predominant thinking. But we now have the political will to entertain a different paradigm, because there are two different forces. Number One, the forces of the pragmatic type and so this is UT border regents saying we want this new university to be bilingual/bicultural/biliterate. They want this university, UTRGV, to be bilingual/bicultural/biliterate because they’re thinking in terms of competitiveness. They are thinking in terms of producing students who will be more capable of dealing with the emerging market place. The global market place, as it were. So, it’s utilitarian in nature.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  It makes a lot of sense from an economic standpoint. Then there are the other people, the cultural people who are saying, “We want bilingual/bicultural/ biliteracy because we want our young people to be more self-actualized. We want them to be more culturally competent. We want for this elder to die and not bemoan the fact that he or she never communicated with his or her grandkids. Which is very common. And a lot of that is because of historical reasons and that sort of thing. So, there is a push from the Culturalists who are saying, “We want our young people to know who they are and to understand that there is this cultural transmission that is good to pass on rather than to disrupt the transmission because they did not learn the language.”

Chuy:  Maybe we can digress here. But at what point do those two become, those two objectives become conflictory? I mean, hasn’t that been, in general, the nature of the fight, of the political fight? On the one hand, you’ve got, as you’ve described, the pragmatists who are saying, “This is dollars in your pocket, this is American, this is entrepreneurship.” Everything that you do is motivated by that goal. Versus the Culturalists, if we can call them that, who have some other kind of social goals which people may or may not agree with but certainly are not as easy. Those goals are not as easy to advance to taxpayers, parents and the likes. How does that get resolved?

Frank: (Laughs) I thought you were going to ask a different question.

Chuy:  Well, I didn’t…

Frank:  I thought your question was going to be: At what point do those two become complimentary, not conflicting. And maybe it’s the same question.

Chuy:  Yes. The assumption that I am making is that politics resolves those issues.

Frank:  Hmm.

Chuy:  And they always do.

Frank:  Right.

Chuy:  And in the end, it’s not a matter of whether you convince the other side of anything, it’s a matter of whether you can ram it down their throats. That’s been the nature of my experiences. That’s why I am asking that question.

Frank:  Right. No, I think it’s a good question.

Chuy:  It’s a matter of how you market it. Let me give you an example in Arizona. And keep in mind, I’ve read very little about this stuff, but enough to excite me. But in Arizona, as I understand it, what brought about the repression against the Chicano studies and so forth was maybe the administration was a part of that. The administration, the professors and the students and so forth, in the schools bringing in political activists, Chicano political activists to the campus and insisting on that, right? Out in the open and therefore giving license to those powers that be who have the power, the political power to basically shut her down.

Frank:  Right. And that example that you raise is not different from the kinds of political dynamics that has shaped bilingual education. It’s the same set of dynamics. There is a very interesting book written by Guadalupe San Miguel on the history of bilingual education in the U.S. (Contested Policy: The Rise and Fall of Federal Bilingual Education in the United States, 1960-2001). He brings it right up to “No Child Left Behind”. And so, one of the points that he makes is that there’s been different “pushes”, you know, different critiques for bilingual education since the late 1960’s. And so, one of the big arguments against it is that it’s solidarity politics. Bilingual education is as a function of solidarity politics. And so, a lot of conservative politicos and leaders in society have said, “No, no. That will continue to separate that group of people from the mainstream and that’s not the goal of the American experiment. The goal of the American experiment is the “melting pot”. It’s to bring everybody together. Bilingual education is a separatist movement.” And so, then you have a bunch of people that because they buy into that argument which is very loaded with ideological kinds of precepts, that they then would not be in favor of, they would not vote for, they would not appropriate resources to bilingual education. And so, they want very specific language that says, “This is not so they can become separate. This is so they can become American.”

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  That is the argument that has won the day in bilingual education. So much so, that if you look at what is the reiteration of ESEA, (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1965) because the Elementary and Secondary Education Act comes out of this whole “War on Poverty” and civil rights legislation. So that was 1965, ESEA. ESEA would then call for bilingual education, 1968. In 2001, bilingual was erased completely from the federal law. So, you don’t see bilingual in what used to be called No Child Left Behind, (NCLB, 2002), now it’s called Every Child Can Succeed Act. (Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, 2015) Algo así. So, in that Act, you can do a Find, punch in Bilingual and it does not appear anywhere. Bilingual has been erased from the Federal Law. Bilingual is now the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), Federal Government. Each state can do whatever it wants.  So, in the state of Texas you have bilingual because the state of Texas had Truan, had Joe Bernal, had stalwart defenders of Bilingual education. Those defenders that would have to compromise at every turn. They would have to compromise at every turn and compromising meaning, “Okay, to learn English.”

Chuy:  But now, at least in some school districts—since there is discretion under state law—scholars are now advocating that the dual language instruction model under bilingual education is in fact producing students, Spanish-language students, who are at some point closing that gap with the English-language students.

Frank:  Right. That’s one line of argument. You also have the other line of argument. In fact, I was in a faculty meeting just two days ago where my good friend Roberto Zamora, completely opposes this dual language work. And so, you know Roberto Zamora. By the way, we have the oral history of Roberto Zamora on the Web and with Alejo Salinas where Alejo, in a very detailed way, lays out this whole 1970-71 when he was given the position of “Build Bilingual” and he said, “What’s that?”

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  So, he actually tells the whole story and that’s on YouTube. It is very interesting oral history that he lays out.

So, Roberto says, “Look at Edinburg. Edinburg, right now, according to the 2016 test results that come out of the accountability system of the state of Texas. Edinburg has an Early Exit Program across the board with all of its thirty-three elementary schools. And look at the test results in Edinburg compared to PSJA where every single elementary school is supposed to be a dual language school. And Edinburg out-performs PSJA on the test.”  And so, he says, “You tell me which is more successful.”

Chuy:  To which I would say, “What are you testing, who are you testing and when?”

Frank:  That’s right.

Chuy:  I think that his argument is a superficial political argument unless you can show that you’ve conducted those tests over time and you can prove that.

Frank:  All right. And it also assumes that there is fidelity in the dual language program.

Chuy:  Absolutely.

Frank:  And so, we know that there is great variance within that.

Chuy:  At every level.

Frank:  …Now, we can also argue, I think, reasonably so, that in the early exit program, there is much greater fidelity to the early exit program because it’s easier.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  And there’s enough empirical evidence to suggest that this is much easier because all you’ve got to do is one language.

Chuy:  And in terms of the testing, I agree with you. I think that the fidelity to the program is and the training of the teachers in terms of fidelity and so forth is critical. The political attitude is, “Let’s continue with the one, two or three-year early exit strategy.” That is the most politically safe strategy. Right?  That is probably the least expensive and for those school districts that have higher socio-economic families that’s probably the most palatable. Right?

Frank: Um-hmm.

Chuy:  In districts where you have a large group of immigrants coming in that have a lower socio-economic level than the other districts have, maybe that’s the model that works there. I don’t know. I haven’t seen from either model testing over time that we can say, “That’s it. The dual language model is the best versus the early exit model. And if you can’t get there, the scholars can’t agree, then we have different policies being applied in different places with taxpayer dollars. Right? So how do you get to the model?

Frank:  Yeah.

Chuy:  In English, everybody agrees that our current school system is a standard system, works for everyone, it’s uniform, we use the same textbooks, everyone starts on the same level, first grade. That is the norm. Everyone agrees with that. Everyone agrees with the tests. When we approach bilingual education, then, this nebulous goal is, “Well, there’s a gap between those students who test outside of the norm and our job is to bring them into the norm at some point, either second, third or eighth grade, whatever. And these are the models that we have for that.” But the scholars cannot agree on the models that are the best for that. Right? And where I am going with this thing is, “Where do you head to with B-3, on that?”

Frank:  Right. Yeah. There are longitudinal studies that are quite persuasive. There was one longitudinal study that was done by Thomas and Collier that looks at over one hundred thousand students nationally. There is another longitudinal study that was done by Margarita Calderón. Both studies, independently, look at dual language programs compared to early exit programs and compared within the dual, the different kinds of dual language programs, one-way, two-way, 90-10, 50-50, those kinds of things. And both argue, Thomas and Collier are the ones who collected the most data, they argue that the dual language kids, kindergarten, first grade, they kind of are on par with the early exit kids and in fact, in some ways, are a little bit lower with the early exit.

Chuy:  In the early years.

Frank:  In the early years. But then, during fourth, fifth grade, there begins a separation. The dual language kids’ curve slopes upward. The curve flattens out for those ELL kids that get no services at all and who are the high drop-outs in the end. The curve also flattens out for the early exit kids.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  And they are not even getting dual language services after fourth or fifth grade. So, there is this great separation with the dual language kids. And then, where you get the drop-out kids is not with the dual language kids. Where you get the dropouts is with no services and with the early exit kids.

Chuy: And to what extent have those studies by Thomas and Collier…

Frank:  Let me pull it up.

Chuy:  I have it. I’ve seen it.

Frank:  You’ve seen it?

Chuy:  Yeah. To what extent is that testing reliable in academia, in the schools? To what extent can that be replicated elsewhere? It seems to me…

Frank:  You mean that study?

Chuy:  Yes. The method of study. I don’t know how they do that longitudinal study, but I suspect that it takes, in order to be absolutely certain of its reliability, you are probably going to cover students for a long period of time, same students and compare apples to apples. Right? So, it’s not, like Robert Zamora would say, “Look at Edinburg, how well they’re doing and look at PSJA. School’s out!

Frank:  Right.

Chuy:  So, what’s available in Texas, in the Valley, in South Texas, to help us determine which is the policy to put our money into.

Frank:  Well, I have two answers to that. One, it really doesn’t matter because ideology will win out.

Chuy:  Okay.

Frank:  So, it doesn’t matter because Thomas and Collier, as excited and paraded, people will still hold on to their guns because they will say, “This is how I was raised, and I made it. And I came from Mexico and I was a LEP.” And so, y mucha raza, mucha raza. The Roberto Zamora story. The story of half the principals in elementary schools at PSJA.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  You know, I would even suggest that all the principals that a certain administrator raised, who are now leading campuses, those are the principals who are undercutting dual language. And the principals who are moving dual language are the newer principals who came out of the graduate program that Leo Gómez led and José Luis Escalante and Joe Izquierdo. So, the students of those people who are leading campuses are in opposition to all the others who came up in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and ‘90’s. And so, there is an ideological…

Chuy:  divide.

Frank:  …divide in one school district. And even in certain school districts that may be led by somebody who has fidelity, a principal who has fidelity to the Gómez and Gómez Dual Language Model, that principal is leading a particular campus. Within that campus there could be a divide with the faculty because some faculty come from that other side.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  And so, the issue of fidelity, even when the superintendent is a celebrated superintendent and is parading the dual language, within the rank-and-file there is vision.

Chuy:  Right. Which begs the question and that is, “The policymakers, los políticos, on the school boards are completely absent from that discussion.

Frank:  Right.

Chuy:   And they are the ones who generate the dollars and advancement for these programs. And they are totally gone from this discussion and what you have in effect, you have teachers, administrators and what have-you who are making those decisions affecting those children. Right?

Frank:  Yeah.

Chuy:  In other words, regardless of what the policy may be at a school district, it is not uniform. It cannot be evaluated on the same basis because everybody is doing his own thing. Right? Ideology at every level, in every classroom, theoretically. And let me tell you why I raise this issue. Testing matters.  Even in an ideological war, you’ve got to rely on something that’s legitimate.  Maybe the extremes are going to disagree but the big middle, this big, gelatinous middle can be affected by those kinds of things. Going forward, I’ll give you an example of where I’m coming from. South Texas College has thirty thousand students, más o menos. Three sources of money, federal, state and local. The local is 25% taxpayer dollars. Compared to the rest of Texas, given the total tax load for taxpayers, every local jurisdiction in the Rio Grande Valley is taxing at a higher rate than anywhere else in the state. That’s just reality. Whether it’s the county, the school district or whatever. And those taxpayers at some point can no longer handle that tax burden, politically. So, if the state pulls out from South Texas College any significant funding, it collapses. If the Feds pull out any significant money, it collapses.  And we have no control over that. The Texas Legislature, depending on any given session, or the Federal Congress, can pull the trigger on that.  And I am using that as an example. So, compared to what you’re doing at the University, with your efforts with B-3, I am going to assume that the resources to you will be limited. And I don’t know to what extent the B-3 program is implemented across the regular educational programs like bilingual, teacher certification and all that. If it’s just for Mexican-American Studies or whatever. But it seems to me, unless there is a general agreement, a political agreement—I am not talking about the university governance or the culturalists—I am talking about the politicians, primarily Chicanos throughout the state that support programs like these then they can be done away with overnight, with no reaction whatsoever.

Frank:  Um-hmm.

Chuy:  Because nobody has bought into them. That’s why I’m asking the questions about the legitimacy. How do you keep these programs uniform? If I’m an activist, a Chicano activist in my school district, I need to know what model I’m going to support. If I’m serious and I’m an activist, I would like to know. Or maybe there is no one model. Maybe you do allow the system to decide, maybe that works. Maybe allowing everyone to decide what they want to do, maybe that’s the best model.

Frank:  Yeah. Well. Take a university in northern Spain where Catalan is mandated by the government. Mandated. State controlled, and resources are appropriated based on the dictates of the government.

Chuy:  The regional government?

Frank:  The regional government for a regional university. And so, in that one regional university, all students have to be functionally bilingual, Catalan and Spanish. You don’t have a choice. Faculty have to be functional like that and students are expected to do that. Imagine that scenario posed in South Texas. Imagine that scenario imposed on the U.S. We don’t work that way. (Laughter) As much as our impulses look despotic and autocratic by the current president, that’s not going to fly. We, for better or for worse, probably for better, continue to work on this system of local control. Dependent on outside resources to be sure, but that’s part of how our system works. You know this better than I do. The local control is where the rub is. And so, in my estimation, because I used to think, twenty years ago, I used to think, “If we just do the research and have the evidence and show it, we can persuade.” Well, we did the research and we have the evidence and we showed it and we didn’t persuade anybody. (Laughter) I think it’s about how you persuade. It’s about investing in the persuasion. Therein, I think, lies the rub. I think that the whole rub, and this was what so brilliant about Alinsky (Saul D. Alinsky). “It is about building the public will. It is about activating the citizenry. It is about building the impulses in community. Activating the impulses in community when community is enlightened in a particular way. And so, this whole work of B-3 Institute at the university is all political, all of it is political. All of bilingual education is political in the U.S.A. context, ¿verdad?

Chuy:  Um-hmm.

Frank:  It doesn’t matter what kind of data we show because the data is actually not only persuasive in a U.S. empirical research way, it’s persuasive in a global way. I mean, the studies in Europe show, the studies in Latin America show, but we continue to be much more parochial in terms of language issues politically. This is the only place, in the US, where you can get a Ph.D. without knowing a second language. In the US, it’s the only place in the whole world. (Laughter) If you go get a Ph.D., you don’t have to know a second language, still.

Chuy:  Help me with that.

Frank:  Well, you can go get a Ph.D. in chemistry, somewhere, and you don’t need to know a second language whereas if you’re in another part of the world, there is this understanding that you must be bilingual to get into higher education and that sort of thing. Aquí no. But I think it speaks to the value system.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  You know, we continue to be insulated by two shores. Right?

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  And we do everything within these shores even in this age of “Globalism”. And even with all this immigrant experience that the Italians can forget that they are Italian by the second generation because los italianos no estan viniendo. Es diferente para el mexicano. El mexicano, we continue to have the cultural transmission.

Chuy:  So, at the college, going forward, for a student who starts in the program, four years hence, what has he accomplished now, that is different?

Frank:  That question gets into the substance about what B-3 Institute at UTRGV is doing. And so, I am going to lay out the program and what we’ve learned during the past year because I’ve been at this since last year. And I’ve learned a great deal, just in terms of the body politic within the institution. So, I have learned, “Ah, I can’t go there, I can’t go here, but I can go over there.”

Chuy:  Where the traps are.

Frank: That’s right. So, we’re working through engaging with community, with políticos. So, I meet with políticos. I met with Senator Chuy Hinojosa trying to get him to talk up the whole bilingualism much more.  So, he first said, “What?”  (Laughter) At first, he was like, “What are you talking about?” We had to get to the second level of understanding.

But there are others who get it much more readily. State Representative Terry Canales, for example, wrote legislation to create a Bilingual Zone in the Rio Grande Valley. It didn’t go anywhere.

Chuy:  Well, yeah.

Frank:  But at least people heard about it. And we even had to change the language on creating “The Creation of Bilingual in South Texas”. We had to change the language to “The Creation of a Study to Have a Bilingual Zone”, that we would run through the Comptroller in partnership with UTRGV. It didn’t make it out of Committee. It wasn’t priority. But we’re going to reintroduce it in the next legislative session. So, were doing that work of engagement with leaders, we’re doing engagement with K-12. I mean, I’m very close to the PSJA story. You know, you may now know that not only PSJA runs a dual language program, but we’ve seen other school districts jump on this. Now Harlingen has a dual language program, La Joya has a dual language program, Mission has a dual language program. Rio Grande City just started their dual language program and well, these schools. If you look, ten years ago, only PSJA had a dual language program. Even five years ago, PSJA and La Joya was just starting.

Chuy:  What is happening?

Frank:  What is happening is that the idea is gaining traction. Now the idea is getting traction because people who are ascending to principalships were raised, intellectually, in certain graduate seminars with certain people.

Chuy:  Okay.

Frank:  So, that’s one. So, more and more people are having access to dual language research. They have more access to what Gina, who is now a professor… What is Gina’s last name? …I forget her last name, but she comes out of PSJA. She’s a professor at A&I, A&M now, at Kingsville. She’s writing about dual language at PSJA. It’s gaining traction because people like Aurelio Montemayor, through IDRA, is now doing the parent thing at PSJA, through a Kellog Grant (W. K. Kellog Foundation) and Annie E. Casey Grant and they are spreading the word and so now, more and more people are buying into it. People are seeing the kind of attention that this is getting. So now, if you look at PSJA, PSJA has 30,000 kids maybe. La Joya has about 31,000 kids. Harlingen has, I don’t know, maybe 26,000 kids and Rio Grande has 12,000 kids, maybe. So, you put those numbers together. You’re talking about close to 100,000 kids now who have some kind of access to dual language education.

Go back to 1994, we had zero. So, there is a change with the larger school districts buying into this. Now, there are some school districts that are dead-set against it. Edinburg is dead-set against it, Edcouch-Elsa is dead-set against it. Mercedes had a bit of a trial run, maybe fifteen years ago. And then the superintendent was fired, and they dropped it. And so other school districts are, “No, we’re not doing that.” But with a change in leadership or a change in political will in the community…For example, in Edinburg, there is an organization of professors, informal organization, that began to meet to pull their kids out of Edinburg schools and send them to McAllen because McAllen now has a dual language program. Edinburg doesn’t. Professors have a different sensibility. They want their children to be raised bilingually. And, so, professors in very, very explicit ways are pulling their kids out of Edinburg.

Chuy:  Wow.

Frank:  And Edinburg has pretended to not care this far. But, at some point, they’re going to care.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  But at some point, they’re going to care because their student enrollment used to be a thousand kids a year. You remember, when we used to meet about the bond issue, the reason we built the schools in Edinburg was because we were growing by a thousand, one hundred kids per year.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  This past year Edinburg grew by three hundred.

Chuy:  Oh, wow.

Frank:  Edinburg is going like this. It’s not only IDEA. Now we’re seeing that there are other kinds of forces, like parents pulling their kids out because Edinburg doesn’t offer dual. So, there’s something that’s happening. And then, the university is talking up this story. So that’s where the public engagement piece comes in.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  And so, to build a new consciousness in the community that is slow, you know, that happens over a period of time. But, it is gaining some traction.

Chuy:  What is going to be the attraction to that student?

Frank:  So, here’s the other piece, the curricular piece. So, at the university, right now, we have one department that’s already bought into this and has made it institutional. We have the Department of Writing and Language Studies that’s working closely with the B-3 Institute. Wrote a proposal that it summitted to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee to have a Dual Language Certificate in its major. Writing and Language Studies, all right? The Dual Language Certificate means this: that you can go get a degree in Writing and Language Studies in that department and take everything in English if you want. But, that department offers five courses in Spanish, exclusively in Spanish, not bilingually, but in Spanish.

Two courses are actually part of the Core already, Spanish 2313 and Spanish 2315. Everybody has to take that, so, no problem. That’s six hours. Then two other classes are directly in Writing and Language Studies, six hours in Spanish. And then, another course in a related field, in Spanish. Six, six and three, fifteen hours. You complete your degree. On your diploma, you’re going to get a Dual Language Certificate stamp.

Chuy:  Which allows you to…

Frank:  Which allows you to be more competitive in the marketplace. You took fifteen hours that were in Spanish. You had to read in Spanish, you had to write in Spanish, you listened to lectures in Spanish, you engaged in Spanish, etc., etc. So, that’s really to help students build those Spanish language skills. Everything else they’re taking in English, so they’re building their English skills.

Chuy:  That will be in place when?

Frank:  It’s already in place. That was approved. We have four other departments that are on the docket and have submitted applications through the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. So, I expect that by the Fall of 2018, we are going to have five departments that offer Dual Language Certificates. And so then, we will grow incrementally. My target before had been on course work, building a course work that is bilingual, very Anzaldua-like, very cultural. Right? And so, the students will be, I think, much more, ready and engaged in class because the classes will be taught bilingually or in Spanish.

So, students are signing up for those E-classes, español, right, because the teacher, the professor is delivering instruction and you can submit your work in Spanish, if you want. So that’s the cultural approach. So, this past semester, we had seventy-seven sections that were taught in that. That’s not going to be the game changer. That’s kind of a political sort of push to create a buzz around this.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  The game changer is going to be where we are enacting policies. Meaning departments are now creating Dual Language Certificates within their majors. So, whenever we get fifty departments that offer Dual Language Certificates, this is a university to be reckoned with because this university is doing bilingual instruction because they’re offering Dual Language Certificates. And you don’t have to take those classes but if you want…

Chuy:  And so, say, engineering…

Frank:  Yeah, engineering. All you need is one professor in electrical engineering who can teach those two engineering courses in Spanish. And then, the student will have to take the 2313 and 2315 Spanish and then another related, Social Linguistic or something else, mechanical engineering, perhaps, because we’ll have another professor there.

Chuy:  But it will be a professor who will be Spanish proficient, then, presumably.

Frank:  Yes, be at a level of readiness to teach all in Spanish. And we have them across the campus, mexicanos, peruanos, dominicanos.

Chuy:  You already have them?

Frank:  Oh, we have so much talent at the school. Y mucho de eso estaba dormido. That was part of my initial assessment, was to look for all those faculty members. Some of them were hiding in the weeds.

Chuy:  Oh, sure.

Frank:  But, you know, when I begin to go to department meetings, write letters to the deans, talk it up with the deans and that sort of thing, I’m getting these e-mails, from Pati Feria, who is a biologist, and has her undergraduate and master’s degree from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). And then she came to St. Louis to do a Ph.D. in biology and is doing climate change and teaching climate change. She’s like an expert on ZIKA viruses and all kinds of stuff. And so, she writes to me and she came out of nowhere. “Yo quiero dar clases en español.” So, I go ahead, and I even sit in her class and it’s a fantastic thing. And so, I interview the kids who are in her class.

One kid said, “You know, I took this class because I need to be able to talk to my grandparents.”

So, we have those kinds of things. Other people say, “I want no more Spanish.” And others, “I learn better in Spanish.” So, we have the range.

Chuy:  Motivated from…

Frank:  Yeah, motivated by different things. So that’s the curricular push. And so, I think that this is gradual. In the beginning, I cited the Supreme Court, “With all deliberate speed”. That’s what this is and some of it is my style. I’m not The Efrain Fernandez Style, “Ah, right now!” I have a different style. That’s personality, that’s character. And so, but also because I think I’ve learned a thing or two being on the faculty for fifteen years.

Chuy:  Sure. Política y todo.

Frank:  People don’t respond well to shock. (Laughter) You know, one of the critiques to this push was that, “We’re going to lose our jobs.” Muchos pensaban así. Nobody is going to lose his or her jobs as a faculty. No, no. Maybe in twenty years we may have a policy that is part of your tenure promotion you have to be functionally biliterate. But that takes time to change.

Chuy:  But you know what’s important, what’s interesting, because you go full circle. I know you bring up Anzaldua a lot. But what you can’t find from Anzaldua, you cannot find from those of us who write, is that we love the Spanish language. And, as a matter of fact, we don’t respect it enough, that’s why we don’t learn it. And it’s not entirely our fault. It’s just that’s what happened in the last fifty, sixty, one hundred years. The subliminal bias.

And I have friends, for instance, whom I can correct in English, but I can’t correct in Spanish because they’re insulted. And we permit ourselves this. We’ve been raised with it through our entire lives. Tex-Mex, it’s easy, we get away with it, nobody disciplines us for it, nobody cares and it’s disrespectful. And then, the Culturalists, including myself, over the years, we make excuses and we say, “You know, that’s Nepantla or whatever.” (Laughter) And that’s fine. It is. But, that doesn’t mean that you should not be proficient in that language. And unless we are proficient in the language, we’re not going to have the kind of influence in the global markets and so forth. If we cannot have those kinds of discussions with people from other countries in Spanish.

Any time I see a professional speak in Spanish, I think, “He could prepare himself. Before he went out there, he could really sit down and prepare a few key words that he’s going to use. Or write them down. You know what? Just write down your presentation. You’re not going to make a mistake.” Why? Respect for the language, respect for your audience and respect for your students. Right? I have grandchildren también. And that’s what we’re focusing on. We’re focusing on the language.  Now the reason I say that you’ve come a full circle is because it seems to me that at the college level is where you’re going to have those leaders. Those educational leaders who are going to insist on proficiency in Spanish, not because we want to be like the Spaniards, getting into the whole colonial war on that, but because…and the Culturalists should even be impressed by that. I’ll give you an example. I took a Spanish class in high school. I think it was a freshman class. There was one Anglo in the class and he was the “A” student. And the rest of us used that class to mess around. You know. No respect, right? But yet, when I was a kid, my father would sit me down and instruct me, “Léeme el periódico.” Four, five years old, I’m reading that paper to him.  Respect. But at some point, that was gone.

I think that what you’re doing over there has potential.

Frank:  Yes, it has that potential. I’ve got to tell you that some of the push-back that we get on the Dual Language Certificate, for example, that has to be exclusively in Spanish because from our perspective, we need to build up our Spanish skills that you just articulated in your argument. That some of the push-back is from the Culturalists. You know, the “Anzaldua Warriors”.

Chuy:  Why? Legitimate or illegitimate argument?

Frank:  …No, legitimate argument. I think it’s worth engaging in debate.

Chuy:  Which is…?

Frank:  Well, the debate is that that’s not how people are. Here. That this is a very “trans-language” environment.

Chuy:  I totally agree with that.

Frank:  Yes. So, my argument is this. Let’s be proficient in that and let’s be proficient in Spanish as well.

Chuy:  Exactamente. Exactamente.

Frank:  There is enough space to do both and this is why…

Chuy:  The brain is a marvelous thing.

Frank:  The way that this thing is sort of shaking up is that we can have courses that are taught bilingually, but we need to have courses that can be taught in Spanish as well. I predict that the bilingual is actually going to phase out. And the Dual Language Certificate courses, that are all in Spanish, that’s what’s going to stick because I think that in the end, that’s what will prove to have the greatest integrity. That’s what I am predicting, and I may, you know, if I’m in this long enough, steer it in that direction as well.

Chuy:  I think that we the Culturalists are challenged by that. And by that, I mean, “Wow, you mean that there’s something missing in me? Here I am. I’m a Chicano, I can barely speak a few words in Spanish, I use Tex-Mex and now, I’m supposed to know Spanish? Be proficient in Spanish?” Está cabrón.

Frank:  Um-hmm.

Chuy:  It’s very confusing. You wanted to be culturally White and speak English all your life and that’s what you worked toward all your life and your parents and academia y todo supported that. Ten years ago, you woke up, “I’m a Chicano.” So, all this stuff matters, culturally and all of a sudden, you feel good about yourself. And then now, here comes Guajardo saying, “We’re going to teach in Spanish and we’re going to be English proficient at the same time.” That’s a huge blow. It’s tough.

Frank:  Yeah, I think that this is where the profound difference is between an institution here and an institution in Catalonia. Allá lo tienes porque el estado te está diciendo, aquí no tienes que hacerlo. Lo puedes hacer si quieres. Si te quieres realizer en diferente manera. So, this is still all you have. You are on your own. And so, we offer this, and this is a beautiful thing. And so, to get to another question you e-mailed me, there’s no other university doing this.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  Not a public institution. There is Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez that perhaps you’ve seen it at the NABE conferences. That Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez was born in Puerto Rico in the 1950’s. This powerful, woman educator, Ana G. Méndez, created a community college system for the portoriqueños who didn’t know English.

Chuy:  Interesting.

Frank:  And so, she brought them in to teach them trades, carpentry, plumbing, etc. in the late ‘50’s. And so, it became a successful model. It would grow to what is today the Sistema Universitario. And so now, they even have graduate programs, heavy on teaching, heavy on nursing. And so, they have campuses in Washington D.C. and north Florida, I think in Jacksonville and then Dallas. And then on the island, they have four or five campuses. So that’s a private institution.

Chuy:  Right.

Frank:  So, I visited Ana G. Méndez in Puerto Rico just to see what it was. It’s a fascinating case study and they do dual language. They do it in English and they do it in Spanish with, you know, fidelity to each. We looked at the University of Ottawa in Canada, where they’ve been doing this for a hundred and fifty years, although the big push is from the 1960’s forward.  So, you have the Anglophones and the Francophones, and you can take a class in English or you can take a class in French. You can do a whole degree, if you want in history, and take all the courses in French is you want, or you can take all the courses in English if you want. Or, you can have a combination thereof. They’ve been doing this for one hundred fifty years.

Chuy: Now, in the College of Education here, is the college producing certificates in bilingual education or degrees in bilingual education? What is the college producing and delivering to the school districts?

Frank:  I think this is the second-largest producer of bilingual education teachers. I think Florida International may be the top one. The College of Education produces a large number of bilingual education teachers.

Chuy:  And there is a degree for that?

Frank:  Yes, it’s Interdisciplinary Studies and they go through the Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies, which is, by the way, one of the departments that’s on our docket. That’s going to become, will be offering Dual Language Certificates. That’s an easy one. That’s a slam-dunk because a lot of their instruction is already in Spanish. The problem with that department, and this has been the historical problem, is that a lot of those students cannot pass the Teacher Certification Test, which is in English and another one is Spanish. The one that they do not pass is the one in Spanish.

Chuy:  They pass the one in English?

Frank:  They pass the one in English, the proficiency one. But then to be bilingual teachers, they have a hard time. The passing grade is maybe sixty percent. They have a tough time passing the one in Spanish. They don’t have the language proficiency in Spanish. Okay, we build Dual Language Certificates. Now you’re talking about students who are becoming proficient in Spanish. The numbers will go up is what I predict.

Chuy:  Sure. Okay. And that’s what’s interesting because I think that that’s, over time…

Frank:  Over time. So, you can imagine already. A student will go through that Dual Certificate in that department, but the student will have the choice to take a number of other courses in Spanish in another department. There’s a history class that I am taking in Spanish. It’s for dual language history majors but I’m getting into that class.

A student at UTRGV, in their forty courses they need to graduate, they can take as many as twenty, twenty-five courses in Spanish, if they want. So, you can already begin to imagine, “Oye, soy de Monterrey y para que se me haga fácil it could be that I can…” Now, that student will not get away with all of it in Spanish. He/she will have to take a good amount of English, just because of how course schedule, degree plans and all of that work out. Advisors will be vigilant at some point. But, you actually can do that. You can’t do that anywhere else, not in a public institution in this country. So, what we’re doing, I think, is we’re building in sufficient flexibility, so the student can craft his or her own degree plan.

Chuy:  Sure.

Frank:  And get whatever he or she wants. And so, we’re also beginning to have in advertisements to recruit faculty, bilingual preferred. Bilingual preferred.

Chuy:  Which is “or biliterate.”

Frank:  Yes, I think it actually says that because this university is becoming bilingual/biliterate.

Chuy:  Tú no eres bilingual. Tú no sabes español.

(Laughter)

Frank:  So, you’re beginning to see that. There’s something about being in an institution in the U.S.A., still, that we’re not in Catalonia.

Chuy:  Nada se hace a huevo.

Frank:  Nada se hace a huevo. Aquí no.

Chuy:  But, it’s interesting, I think, you know, when you talk about Spanish proficiency, I think that finally there will be an institutional push for that. Maybe not intended, but that’s what will result from that. People are going to become Spanish proficient.

Frank:  Yes.

Chuy:  Literate in Spanish.

Frank:  Yes, as we’re also valuing bilingualism that may be regional, colloquial, that’s good. But the push here is for you to be functionally biliterate as well.

Chuy:  And also, I think, it will maybe legitimize the dual language efforts in the local schools.

Frank:  That’s right. So, this is leadership from the top down, obviously. But we’re also trying to build the grassroots movement. You know, I gave a talk once, at the museum, sometime last year when there was an old-timer in the audience who had been a professor at the university for many years. Economics professor. And so, he asked the question. It was a really good question. “Is this a grassroots effort or is this top-down?” And so, I responded to him and there was a fellow in the audience, whom you’ll recognize when I tell you in a second. There was a fellow in the audience who actually helped me with the response. I said to him, “That’s a really good question and so you can tell that this is top-down. When Lázaro Ramírez in the audience then jumped in and said, “But the community, a good part of the community, has been waiting for this too. So, some of it is not only top-down. Some of us in the community have been waiting for this moment.” Fue lo que dijo Lázaro.

Chuy:  Yeah, yeah.

Frank:  And so, I thought, “I think that’s a very interesting but in many ways like a poignant take on this.” Because as much as we can rejoice, it’s also very sad moment because imagine the loss.

Chuy:  Oooh.

Frank:  Imagine the loss. I go back to the story of my father. When my father died in 2013, one of my father’s regrets in life was that he bemoaned the fact that there were two grandkids who’d he’d never had a conversation with.

Chuy:  Yeah.

Frank:  And it wasn’t because they didn’t love him, or he didn’t love them. It was the language.

Chuy:  Yeah.

Frank:  And that is so common as the story. That’s the loss.

Chuy:  But, but, yes, but that is difficult to quantify, generally, as a value to society because it’s personal.

Frank:  Right, right. It’s personal, but this is also the way we move audiences too.

Chuy:  Totally, totally.

Frank:  So, if the empirical evidence doesn’t move people, maybe we can move certain people. Everybody understands that story. Everybody gets that.

Chuy:  Totally, but this marketing, this dual approach, right, it’s as American as apple pie and maybe even more so, right, and that’s why I’m so impressed with the literature. When I read, and I read the Thomas…

Frank:  Thomas and Collier.

Chuy:  Yeah. And when I see that, and I saw the same graphs.

Frank:  Yeah. Yeah.

Chuy:  I said to myself, “Can you imagine if fifty years ago we’d had this? Can you imagine where we would be today?” It’s amazing. Who knows how many thousands of kids we would have produced? The brilliant minds who are gone. Right?

Frank:  Yeah.

Chuy:  The message is that there is enough room in our brain to handle that stuff. Listen, te agradezco mucho.

Frank:  No, al contrario.

Dr. Francisco Guajardo

To Learn More About Dr. Francisco Guajardo

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The September 2021 edition of IberoAzltan will be our ninth. We had projected publication of six editions which would be focused primarily on an interview project which we began in 2017, called the Chicana/o Legacy Project. The interest in and support for IberoAztlan was Unexpected.

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