5055 July Street, Clairemont
This is the bilingual idea as it should be in a border town. Kids growing up speaking both Spanish and English with equal facility. "We're total immersion," says Luz Malaga, Longfellow's vice principal, "based on the Quebec model." And it really works, she says. The program has been in place 25 years, and unlike the city's well-regarded Language Academy, pupils here have no recourse to English from K through second grade. And no, it's not a way to help native Spanish speakers. "Only 10 of our 614 pupils speak Spanish as their primary language," says Malaga. "The rest come from English-speaking families." Learning in a second language seems to help all around: Longfellow students outperform most of San Diego's English-only kids in English as well, according to Malaga, and ranks eighth out of a possible ten in the statewide Academic Performance Index. Kids range from inner-city urban to middle-class suburb kids. Better book now: Malaga says they have a three-year, 300-kid, lottery-based waiting list.