Luis Narvaez (he/him/his/el)
Office of Language and Cultural Education (OLCE)
My name is Luis Narváez and I wasn't born in Chicago and I didn't learn English until the age of 15. I was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, and arrived to the Chicagoland area during my high school years when my single mother of three decided to provide my siblings and I with a better life and an increased opportunity at educational success. Navigating my schooling as an English Language Learner was not easy, but through great mentorship and caring educators I was able to achieve college and career success. My story is my driver as I think about our district's 70,000+ ELs in addition to all students learning a second language through their Dual and World Language instruction.
Why I choose to engage in equity work
My why is my desire to achieve language equity across the entire district to get us to a point where every graduating high school senior is eligible for the State Seal of Biliteracy, a recognition given by the Illinois State Board of Education to students able to demonstrate high levels of proficiency in English and a second language. I am proud to be the project lead at CPS for this award. I believe that this recognition can capture two categories of students: 1) those coming from households where something other than English is spoken as the primary language and they maintain that language at a high academic level, as well as 2) those who are learning a world language at school and going beyond the district's 2-year requirement to become fluent in that language.
My equity challenge and how I work on it
Currently less than 1% of recipients of the State Seal of Biliteracy at CPS are Black, yet these students make up over 35% of the total enrollment across our district. While we require that every student takes 2 years of a World Language in order to receive their diploma, I'd like to see more school principals at both elementary and high school levels implement additional years of world language offerings for their student, as research shows that a student would need to learn a second language by 3rd grade in order to become proficient in that language by the time they graduate high school. With more jobs requiring applicants to be bilingual, I want to make sure all of our students are prepared for this aspect of their careers.
What sustains me when equity work stalls, how do I stay motivated when the work gets hard, and how do I push myself and others to advance equity
Every day I come across professionals who are proud of being bilingual, whether that second language was learned at home or through the classroom, including many our district's teachers who have their state bilingual endorsement. Hearing their stories on how proud they are of having this skill and how useful it has been for them in school and in life inspires me to make sure a larger pool of our students can achieve biliteracy. Knowing a second language opens up a world of opportunities that prepares us for a more inclusive and better understanding society. As the parent of two young boys of color who are already bilingual, I want to make sure I am leaving them a future of inclusivity that embraces multilingualism and multiculturalism.
Recognition of language diversity matters!
Our leadership's Annual Regional Analysis, or ARA, has been a blessing in promoting academic equity across the district. https://ara.cps.edu/