U-46 now a pre-K through 12th grade dual language district

Elgin Area School District U-46's award-winning bilingual program marks a milestone this year.

"As of this school year, we are a pre-K through 12th grade dual language district," Superintendent Tony Sanders said.

Students who started in the dual language program in prekindergarten will begin their senior year in the program this fall, Sanders said.

The U-46 school board recently adopted honors Spanish Language Arts/Latinx Studies curriculum as an elective and capstone course for seniors in the dual language program. Its adoption meets the district's equity goals requiring all curriculum and instructional materials to reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of its student population.

Latinos make up 55% of the district's roughly 37,000 students.

Through the course, students will learn to understand language, identity and culture through an interdisciplinary approach guided by history, cultural studies, literature and the arts.

Research shows that an ethnic studies curriculum focusing on the social, political and historical perspectives of diverse racial and ethnic populations encourages cross-cultural understanding, promotes an appreciation for differences across racial and ethnic communities and contributes to overall academic success, officials said.

"Who among us does not want to see their culture represented in the curriculum?" Sanders said.

Latino survey

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately has affected certain ethnic groups seeing record unemployment, mental health challenges and debt accumulation. Latinos were hit the hardest, according to U.S. Census Bureau surveys.

Latino households reported higher food insufficiency than white non-Hispanic households in March, based on an analysis of recent data from the bureau's experimental Household Pulse Survey.

Food insufficiency is defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat.

About 21% of Latinos who responded to the survey in Spanish reported two times the level of food insufficiency and were 50% more likely to report job loss than Latinos who took the survey in English, data shows.

Spanish-language survey respondents also were more likely to rely on private sources of food aid like churches, food banks, friends and family and school-provided meals to feed their children, data shows.

Self help

Ron Beauchamp spent 25 years working in higher education, teaching, mentoring and advising minority students on how to deal with adversity.

Beauchamp, of Streamwood, decided to use his own experiences as a Black man to write a practical guide for responding to difficult life circumstances.

"My book is about how do you, as an individual, deal with life's challenges from a racial perspective," said Beauchamp, senior pastor of Bethel New Life Church in Wheaton. "I've been knocked down more than once. My big challenge to the individual is what tools do you use."

The self-help book, "It's In Your Response," is a culmination of reflections from Beauchamp's sermons and teachings. In it, Beauchamp talks about his experiences dealing with the court system, the challenges of being ostracized by a community and being marginalized at work.

Beauchamp said he lost his job as a professor at an Illinois college and is involved in a legal battle over "the mistreatment" of Black students.

"How do we get back up and survive this issue of being a Black man in a predominantly white world?" he asked. "It's in your response. My response was to try to find a more mature way to address issues. In every situation, we have a certain amount of responsibility we hold in how we respond."

Rent help

McHenry County's emergency assistance program to help renters and landlords struggling with pandemic-related financial hardship has been extended for a year and immigration status isn't a barrier for eligibility.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 30, 2022. Renters and landlords who qualify now are eligible for up to 18 months of assistance and up to 12 months in arrears. Eligibility also has been expanded to people living in public and subsidized housing, or using federal housing choice vouchers.

Qualifying families must earn at or below 80% of the area's median household income of $86,799 in 2019 - families earning at 50% or lower, or including dependents or seniors 62 years and older get priority. Applicants must show loss of income or employment due to COVID-19.

Applications are available in English and Spanish and can be submitted at For information, call the McHenry County Housing Authority at (815) 338-7752 or Consumer Credit Counseling Services at (815) 338-5757 for Spanish speakers.

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Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy
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