Growing up, Cristina Noriega heard the stories about how her father was punished for speaking
Spanish at school. Sometimes Lionel Sosa’s teacher would strike his knuckles with a ruler. One
time, he couldn’t find the right English words to ask permission to use the bathroom and wet
his pants in class. By the time Sosa was raising his own children, the family spoke mostly
English.

When San Antonio Independent School District announced it was opening a dual language
academy where children would be taught using the “cognitive magic” of bilingual education,
Noriega leapt to enroll her daughters, Luz and Paloma. Part of an ambitious and unprecedented
effort to integrate the district’s schools using household income, Mark Twain Dual Language
Academy quickly filled up with Mexican-American families eager to see their children become
not just bilingual but bicultural.

“What a gift to my kids,” says Noreiga, now president of the school’s parent-teacher
organization and a vocal supporter of San Antonio ISD’s plan to create dynamic new schools
and ensure the city’s most impoverished children are fairly represented in them. “Not only to
speak Spanish from an early age but to be valued. What a cool thing.”
Tour Mark Twain Dual Language Academy with Noriega and Principal David Garcia and then
read more about the city, its schools, and the leaders behind a revolutionary integration
experiment at The74Million.org/Integration

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