Miami-Dade County public school system (MDCPS), with a student enrollment of over 400,000, is the largest public school district in Florida and the fourth largest in the nation. It is home to several major universities and some of the region's finest continuing education resources. Approximately 20% of Miami-Dade County employee's are employed by the public school system. The district is also the largest minority public school system in the country, with 52% of its students being Latino, 25% African American, and 6% of other non-white minorities. Approximately 190,506 and 19,304 students in the MCDPS system have indicated Spanish and Haitian Creole, respectively, as their primary language. (43) MDCPS is also the only public school district in the United States to offer optional bilingual educations.
Florida as a state has been applauded for it's consistently high graduation rates. From 1999 to 2005, Florida has increased from a 60% to a 71% graduation rate. Hispanic students have seen a gain of greater than 11%. These trends have successfully been seen in MDCPS as well.
Since the 1960s, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and ESL (English as a Second Language) are required at all MDCPS. The goal of ESOL program is to ensure that all students, who are classified as less than independent in English, receive instruction at an appropriate level. “It is a language arts program that incorporates all aspects of the Language Arts instruction, content, and language development.” (43) These students are also provided with 4.5 hours weekly of Curriculum Content in Home Language (CCHL). This program offers subject area courses such as math and science in the students' home language. Some schools also offer the Dual Language Program. The dual language program provides native and non-native English speakers with integrated academic instruction that allows students to become enriched in both English and Spanish. This provides all students with the opportunity to become fully bilingual.
In addition, all elementary MDCPS students receive 2.5 hours of Spanish instruction per week. In middle and high schools students are offered a range of language programs to choose from.
There are many other bilingual programs offered as well, such as Extended Foreign Language but these are optional programs, which students/parents may elect to take. (43)
“You would need an entire FBI field office to get this place clean.”
~Inspector General Herbert Cousins Jr., September 5, 2005 (44)
While in theory Miami-Dade County Public Schools seems to be doing all the right things, MDCPS is one of the most corrupt school systems in the country. In 2004, the system was taken to court in a $100 million fraud case. Investigators went in to find disorganization and “probably malfeasance, misfeasance, and potential fraud.” Officials in the system couldn't give accurate answers to questions as simple as, “how many students do you have?” (45)