“Compromises that we make:” Biculturalism, Equity, and Whiteness in the Dual Language Context

Margaret Buckley Burns, University of Colorado at Boulder


This case study of a Two-Way Dual Language school explores the complexities of multicultural education in a bilingual context. I ask how a Dual Language school defines and enacts the goals of multiculturalism and “biculturalism.” I also ask how social categories other than language, such as race and social class, affect the mission of Dual Language. I argue that the school relied on mostly pluralistic definitions of multiculturalism, while also integrating an understanding of cultural flexibility. In addition, while the school had a unique approach to parent involvement that demonstrated a commitment to combating the interest convergence dilemma, they did not successfully alter their curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of a culturally diverse student body. Overall, while the school had some effective strategies for promoting biculturalism and racial integration, the challenges it faced exemplify the work still left to do in making Dual Language programs equitable tools for social justice.