When I began working on this project, I was interested in identifying school district materials related to bilingual education in El Paso, Texas (something I hope to work on in the future) and to house them on a website for my use and for others. However, that didn’t seem feasible for this project, so I directed my attention toward the District of Columbia Public Schools. Before starting this project, I wasn’t aware of the Charles Sumner Museum and Archives, which is an incredible resource that houses DCPS documents going back to 1804 and is one of the most comprehensive public school district archives. I was able to visit this archive twice before the Covid-19 crisis, and found the Museum Director, Kimberly Springle, to be incredibly helpful. She provided guidance on how the archive is organized and gave me specific leads. I am very happy to have shifted to focusing on education for immigrant-origin students in D.C., and I plan to continue this project and to explore how DCPS has and continues to serve immigrant-origin students.
Two things that stood out to me from the class that have helped me better understand are the principle of Respect Des Fonds and questions of responsibility for maintaining digital projects. I had initially thought to call the website an “archive,” but now know that it is totally a collection! I also never really thought of maintaining this and what happens to it if I don’t. What I take from both of these is that I really can just put in time and thought and make a website that hopefully others will find useful. One aspect of digital items and projects I really appreciate is the preference for tinkering and “iterating” – I can just update the website as I see fit. That said, I did hope to identify, and digitize and upload more documents, which hasn’t been possible because of Covid-19.
Since I posted a draft version of the project webpage, I wrote more background to try to better express what I see as the significance of the project. Trevor mentioned in his feedback that more explanation about the project would be helpful. I think this has greatly strengthened the project. I know why I think it’s important, but I wasn’t really conveying that to those who might visit the website. I plan to continue to tweak this background section as I (hopefully) do more research on the topic of bilingual education in schools. Once I do finally get more items up on the webpage, I would like to approach the Sumner Archives about potentially coordinating outreach to potential site users. I also read that the archive hosts summer research seminars, so if I am able to get this built out by Spring, 2021 I might try to apply to participate in that.
I’ve also identified the three focus areas I’d like to start with and plan to make collections for them. This includes The Webster School, which was an Americanization school, the DCPS response to the 1968 Bilingual Education Act, and gentrification and bilingual education programs. Once it is safe again, I hope to return to the Charles Sumner Museum and Archives to locate items relevant to these. I’m hoping that will be before 2022…
Thank you all for a great semester! I learned so much for Trevor and all of you during discussions and from your posts! I am looking forward to reading and using all of your final projects. I hope that you and your families and friends are safe and well.